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Criticism of Priti Patel over taking the knee remarks ‘unusual’ and ‘odd’, says fellow minister

Written by on 14/07/2021

Criticism of Home Secretary Priti Patel over efforts to fight racism are “unusual” and “odd”, one of her fellow cabinet ministers has told Sky News.

Following England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy – after which some of the side’s players suffered racist abuse on social media – Ms Patel’s pre-tournament comments on footballers taking the knee before games has come under scrutiny.

The home secretary previously described taking the knee as “gesture politics” and said England fans had a “choice” over whether or not to boo players as they made their anti-racism protest.

Ms Patel condemned the racist abuse directed towards England footballers after their loss to Italy on penalties on Sunday night.

But England defender Tyrone Mings subsequently accused her of having “stoked the fire” ahead of Euro 2020 with her comments on players taking the knee.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on Wednesday became the latest government minister to defend Ms Patel amid the row.

“I thought the comments about Priti Patel were unusual, were odd because she has spoken very movingly in the House of Commons about her own experiences and suffering from racism,” he told Sky News.

More on Euro 2020

Prominent Conservative backbench MP Steve Baker has called on his party to change their attitude towards people who take the knee as an anti-racism protest.

Mr Shapps said his view on the issue was “very simple”, adding: “I just think we need to respect everybody and in whatever form they want to show they are against racism is fine with me.

“It’s a shame, because this has detracted from a phenomenal performance by the England team who really got together and did England proud.

“And that’s where I prefer to leave it. I think we should work, all of us in society, and start by accepting that nobody wants to see racism.

“If you accept everybody is coming from the right approach and attitude in this then we’ll get a lot further as a country in actually kicking out racism.”

 Sky News

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