At Prime Ministers’ Questions, Keir Starmer asked Johnson if he “regrets failing to condemn those who booed England players for standing up to racism?”
Boris Johnson responded: “We made it absolutely clear that no-one should boo the England team.”
On 11 June, Johnson did say he wanted the “whole country” to get behind the England team. He also told Channel 5 News: “What I certainly don’t think you should do is boo the England team… I disapprove of people booing the England team. I see no reason to do that.”
But his spokesperson offered mixed messages when asked about the booing. He said: the PM “fully respects the right of those who choose to peacefully protest and make their feelings known”, the spokesman said, adding: “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.”
When asked if he would take the knee on LBC, Johnson said: “I don’t believe in gestures, I believe in substance.”
Just a month earlier, Priti Patel refused to condemn people who booed the England team for taking the knee, labelling the act, “gesture politics.”
The Evening Standard reported that “Asked whether England fans were right to boo the national team, she said: “That’s a choice for them, quite frankly.”
Boris Johnson was wrong to claim that “We made it absolutely clear that no-one should boo the England team.” His government sent out a mixed message. He himself did say that he disapproved of booing the team. But Home Secretary Priti Patel refused to condemn those who booed the England team for taking the knee, saying it was “a choice for them”.
The Prime Ministers misleading statement remains uncorrected on the Commons record in defiance of the Ministerial Code.