England footballer Tyrone Mings criticized Home Secretary Priti Patel in her condemnation of the racist abuse suffered by her teammates, after calling the players taking the knee a “political gesture”.
A number of politicians have tweeted their support for England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, who faced a torrent of racism on social media following England’s loss in the Euro 2020 final.
Mings said Patel had “stoked (d) the fire” after previously refusing to criticize fans who booed the team for taking the knee to protest racial injustice.
He said: “You can’t stoke the fire at the start of the tournament by calling our anti-racist message ‘gestural politics’ and then claiming to be disgusted when the thing we are campaigning against happens.”
Mings’ condemnation of Patel was backed by former Conservative cabinet minister Johnny Mercer, who tweeted: “The painful truth is, this guy is absolutely right. Very uncomfortable with the position we, the Conservatives, are unnecessarily forced into. Should I fight it or stay silent? Modern conservatism has always been so much more to me. We must not go astray.
Mercer, who resigned due to his frustration with the treatment of veterans who served in Northern Ireland, said he viewed the gesture as a gesture of solidarity against racism. “It’s not about the connection between kneeling and BLM – which has disfigured war memorials in London. Right-wing idiots use the poppy – should I drop that? he said.
“It is about empathy with our compatriots who are suffering appalling abuse. Empathy. What it’s like to be them. It’s not hard.”
Mercer said more of his Conservative colleagues should speak out. “We have excellent colleagues in the party who reflect this – I am by no means alone. But more must have the courage to speak out, instead of remaining silent in a bizarre attempt to curry favor. ”
Asked Tuesday if Patel had “stoked the fires of racism” against English footballers, the chief secretary of the Treasury, Steve Barclay, refused three times to answer on LBC. He claimed that Patel had been the victim of “the most appalling racism” and said she “was taking action against extremist groups”.
“What we have seen in the racist abuse of our footballers is totally unacceptable … I think what unites us is that we condemn them and that the Minister of the Interior is taking action,” he said declared.
Patel had tweeted that the racist abuse was’ despicable ‘and added:’ It has no place in our country and I support the police in holding those responsible to account. “
When asked earlier to kneel down, the Home Secretary told GB News: “I just don’t support people who participate in this type of political gesture, to some extent as well. “
On whether England fans were right to boo the national team, she said: “It’s a choice for them, quite frankly.”
Former Conservative Party President Lady Warsi also slammed Patel after her tweet.
“It’s time to stop the culture wars that fuel division,” the conservative peer tweeted. “Dog whistles are winning votes but destroying nations.”
Former footballer Marvin Sordell, who said racism was a “big factor” in his retirement from the sport, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “[Mings] has every right to be angry, just like me, just as I’m sure millions of people across the country are angry too.
“Because there was a huge opportunity to show strong leadership at this point. And I think it was very clear then, it was very clear before that, that the players who kneel down were nothing more than them trying to raise awareness about a topic that has again been raised.
Former England defender Gary Neville joined those questioning Boris Johnson’s authority on the subject of racism, telling Sky News: “The Prime Minister has said it is acceptable for the people of this countries boo these players [taking the knee] who tried to promote equality and defend themselves against racism. It starts at the top. I was not at all surprised to wake up to these headlines; I expected the minute all three players missed.
Another Tory MP also had to apologize for suggesting Rashford should have focused on football rather than “playing politics” in apparent reference to his campaign for free school meals.
Natalie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover and Deal, made the comment in a WhatsApp message to fellow MPs, suggesting that Rashford should not have spent time on his successful campaign to feed low-income students during school holidays .
Elphicke apologized soon after, saying: “I regret sending a private rash reaction about Marcus Rashford’s missed penalty and apologize for any suggestion that he is not fully focused. on his football. “