Boris Johnson has insisted no one in the Conservative party has defended the booing of England players after they were subjected to horrific abuse following the Euro 2020 final.
A section of England supporters jeered their players taking the knee during the tournament and then Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka were subjected to horrible racist abuse after they missed penalties in the shoot-out defeat to Italy last Sunday.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said before England reached the final she did support the ‘gesture politics’ of taking the knee before a game and when booing became headline news across the UK Johnson and his government refused to condemn the jeers, with a spokesperson saying: “The Prime Minister supports individual’s right to protest.”
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Opposition leader Keir Starmer said Patel’s and Johnson’s comments acted as a ‘green light’ to racists in the UK, but Johnson backtracked, insisting the Home Secretary never defended the booing.
“We love and admire the England team and what they did,” Johnson said during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday.
They represent the best of our country. Nobody defends booing of the England side. What the Home Secretary has been trying to do all her life is not just to right racism, but to take practical steps to advance the cause of black and minority ethnic groups, which she has done successfully in the police.
“I think the whole house is united, including our distinguished members from Scotland in admiration of the England team and every single member of that squad and what they did,” he continued after being pushed by Starmer again on the issue.
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“And we stick up for them Mr Speaker and what we’re doing is taking practical steps to fight racism.
“Changing the football banning order regime, fining the online (publishers) and by the way we will bring in more legislation just as we used the threat of legislation to stop the European Super League.”
The England squad has come out united in opposition to the treatment from some fans and centre-back Tyrone Mings took aim at Patel for posting pictures of her celebrating victories and saying she was ‘disgusted’ by the abuse the players received after the final.
He said: “You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens.”
On the abuse Rashford, Sancho and Saka received, Mings said: “But waking up today and seeing my brothers being racially abused for being brave enough to put themselves in a position to help this country, is something that sickens, but doesn’t surprise me.
“We have literally made history. We’ve gone where no one else has gone. Take that in.”
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