The Daily Telegraph

Patel opposes England footballer­s taking knee as ‘gesture politics’

- By Charles Hymas

PRITI PATEL has suggested England’s footballer­s should not take the knee as she labelled it “gesture politics”.

The Home Secretary’s stance appears to contradict Boris Johnson’s position, after his official spokesman said the Prime Minister wanted the public to “cheer them on, not boo”.

Asked about the England football team taking the knee, Ms Patel told GB News: “I just don’t support people participat­ing in that type of gesture, gesture politics, to a certain extent, as well.”

Asked whether England fans were right to boo the national team, she said: “That’s a choice for them, quite frankly.”

Pressed on whether she would boo the team for taking the knee, she added: “I’ve not gone to a football match to even contemplat­e that.”

She claimed the Black Lives Matter protests last summer had a “devastatin­g” impact on policing as she criticised the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston, the 17th-century slave trader, in Bristol. “It’s all [very] well to support a cause and make your voices heard,” she said. “But actually, quite frankly, and we saw last year in particular with some of the protests that took place, I speak now very much from what I saw in the impact on policing. It was devastatin­g.

“Not only that, I just don’t subscribe to this view that we should be rewriting our history. Toppling statues is not the answer. It’s about learning from our past and actually working together to drive the right outcomes.” Last week, when asked if Mr Johnson backed taking the knee, a spokesman said: “The Prime Minister respects the right of all people to peacefully protest and make their feelings known about injustices. [He] wants to see everybody get behind the team to cheer them on, not boo.”

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