Boris Johnson Dodges Question When Asked If He Would Take Knee In Support Of Abused Players
Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to answer whether he would take the knee in support of England players who were racially abused after their defeat in the Euros.
In the wake of England’s loss against Italy, abuse has been directed at Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after they missed their penalties. Fans, sportspeople and other celebrities have rallied behind them to offer support, with England captain Harry Kane calling the racists ‘vile’ and saying England doesn’t want them as supporters.
Johnson also said ‘those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves’, but was quickly criticised for his ‘hypocrisy’ by Gary Neville and many others.
During yesterday’s Downing Street briefing, July 12, the PM was asked whether he’d take the knee in support of the three players. ‘On Black Lives Matter and the importance of that, I will simply repeat what I’ve always said many many times,’ he said, as per The Independent.
‘I think people should feel free to show their respect and show how much they condemn racism in this country in any way that they choose. I was there last night and I noted that the whole crowd was respectful when our players took the knee and I didn’t hear a single boo,’ Johnson continued.
Johnson earlier declined to condemn those who booed the national team for taking the knee. ‘On taking the knee, specifically, the prime minister is more focused on action rather than gestures. We have taken action with things like the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities and that’s what he’s focused on delivering,’ a spokesperson for the PM said.
Home Secretary Priti Patel also spoke out against the racial abuse, but faced similar criticism after describing taking the knee as ‘gesture politics’, which footballer Tyrone Mings called her out for.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner branded Johnson and Patel as ‘total hypocrites… let me be clear. The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary gave license to the racists who booed the England players and are now racially abusing England players. [Johnson and Patel] are like arsonists complaining about a fire they poured petrol on.’
Labour leader Keir Starmer said Johnson has ‘failed the test of leadership… because whatever he says today about racism he had a simple choice at the beginning of this tournament in relation to the booing of those that were taking the knee, the players that were taking the knee – and they made it clear why they were taking the knee,’ per Sky News.
‘The prime minister failed to call that out and the actions and inactions of leaders have consequences,’ he added.
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