19 July 2021, 10:03 | Updated: 19 July 2021, 10:04
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng today told LBC he would not take the knee as he does not believe it does enough to “address the issue” and doesn’t go far enough to tackle issues of racist abuse.
It comes after a handful of the England squad received vile racist abuse on Twitter after the Euro 2020 final loss, with the PM and Home Secretary failing to condemn those who booed players’ anti-racist protests in the stadium.
Speaking to Nick Ferrari on Call the Cabinet this morning, Mr Kwarteng was asked if he thought Home Secretary Priti Patel was wrong to describe taking the knee as ‘gesture politics’.
Mr Kwarteng said: “With regard to taking the knee, people should be allowed to express their views.
“I think what Priti Patel was saying is it’s not necessarily something that she would do.
“When she says gesture politics…. it is a gesture. It’s not something that’s going to affect people’s daily experience and I think that’s the point she was making.
“I think what is completely reprehensible is the racist abuse, which is a scandal frankly in this day and age, and the fact that they are allowed to do that on social media.
“People from all sides try and politicise these issues and I think that’s really regrettable.”
Watch again: Call the Cabinet with Kwasi Kwarteng
Mr Kwarteng told LBC that he “doesn’t think” Priti Patel “stoked the fire” of racism, an accusation aimed at her by England defender Tyrone Mings on Twitter.
He continued: “I’ve been following football from the 80s when I was a kid and people used to throw bananas at black players. There’s always been an ugly element to this. I don’t think Priti Patel caused that.”
Nick asked whether Mr Kwarteng would take the knee, to which he replied, “No I wouldn’t. I think it’s a gesture. I’m much more focused on actual outcomes.
“It’s not addressing the issue. You see this in some companies. They go through the motions, they say the right things but their mindsets haven’t changed. “
“It’s a way of saying ‘I share your pain’ but you’re not actually thinking about the issue and how you can change peoples’ racial attitudes and combat prejudice.”
He continued that those who do take the knee shouldn’t be booed: “I’ve always been against that.”
The symbol of anti-racism solidarity gained attention in American Football in 2016 as players protested against police brutality and racism in the US.
The act has since spread further and was adopted by footballers in the UK, partly to demonstrate that racism should not be tolerated in the sport.