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14th Jul 2021

Boris Johnson denies defending those who boo England players taking a knee

Danny Jones

Boris denies defending people who boo taking the knee

The PM denied defending those who booed and insisted he “made it absolutely clear that no-one should boo the England team”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces questions from MPs this afternoon, Sir Keir Starmer and his party call for new powers to be introduced to ban anyone convicted of racist abuse from football matches.

Johnson insisted that “no-one defends booing of England” after the Labour leader jibed that he is “not sure a 15-minute chat with social media companies at a garden party” will solve the problem of online abuse.

Starmer added: “When senior government ministers and Conservative MPs defend booing of an anti-racist message” – clearly pointing towards the likes of Priti Patel and Natalie Elphicke – “who do they think they are defending and why are they defending it”.

The Prime Minister refused to admit that any of his party were guilty of defending people who boo taking the knee – this comes just weeks after the Home Secretary called it “a choice” and labelled the stance “gesture politics”.

Starmer went on to say: “Either the PM is with the England players in their stand against racism or he can defend his own record, those of his ministers or some of his MPs. But he can’t have it both ways. So can he tell the House: does he now regret failing to condemn those who booed England players for standing up to racism, yes or no?”

Johnson replied as follows: “We made it absolutely clear that no-one should boo the England team and what we’re doing now is taking practical action. I met with representatives of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram and made it clear we will legislate to address this problem.”

He went on to assure that “Unless they get hate off their platforms they will get fines amounting to 10% of their global revenues, and we all know they have the technology to do it”.

Starmer would not budge on the U-turning however, pointing out:

“Here I have the headline: Boris Johnson refuses to condemn fans booing England taking the knee. That’s the story, that’s the headline. June 6. That’s absolutely clear. It’s not quite what the PM is implying today.

“It also goes on to quote the PM’s spokesperson, saying the PM ‘fully respects the rights of those who choose to make their feelings known’. And the Home Secretary [as mentioned above] saying booing was ‘a choice for them, quite frankly’”.

Over a million people have now signed a petition calling on the FA and the government to introduce a life ban for those found guilty of inciting racial hatred either in person or online around football matches.