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Boris Johnson gave ‘racism the green light’ with refusal to back footballers taking the knee

Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson’s “dog whistle” politics spawned the racist abuse suffered by England’s football team following the Euros final, senior MPs have claimed.

Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were subjected to a deluge of racist abuse on social media platforms following Sunday’s defeat.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer laid the abuse at Mr Johnson’s door at prime minister’s questions today, claiming “far from giving racism a red card, he gave it a green light”.

Sir Keir asked why the prime minister had described the England team’s decision to take the knee as “gesture politics”.

Mr Johnson responded: “I utterly condemn and abhor the racist outpourings that we saw on Sunday night, and so what we’re doing is today is taking practical steps to ensure that the football banning order regime is changed, so that if you are guilty of racist abuse online of footballers, then you will not be going to the match, no ifs, no buts, no exemptions and no excuses.”

Sir Keir responded: “Either the Prime Minister is with the England players in their stand against racism or he can defend his own record, those ministers and 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?”

Mr Johnson replied: “We made it absolutely clear that no-one should boo the England team.”

Ian Blackford

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford took up the same theme with his questions, telling MPs Mr Johnson’s decision not to back the taking of the knee was “shameful”.

In reference to one of Mr Johnson’s newspaper columns, he added: “Can the prime minister tell us what sanctions he thinks would be appropriate for someone who publishes racist content – and it shocking to even have to say this out loud -describing Africans as ‘flag waving piccaninnies’ with ‘watermelon smiles’?”

Mr Johnson responded: “I’ve commented many times about the words that I’ve said in the past and I think the House understands how you can take things out of context.”

Mr Blackford slammed the prime minister for showing “no contrition, no apology”, adding: “The legacy of the prime minister’s dog whistling has followed him into 10 Downing Street and it is now at the heart of this Tory government.”

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