Boris Johnson tells England fans to ‘cheer, not boo’ players taking the knee

Boris Johnson has told England fans to “cheer not boo” players taking the knee – after days of skirting round the issue.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman had previously failed to condemn a minority of fans who booed players ahead of Euro 2020.

But today, in a not-so-hasty about turn, a No10 spokesman told fans to “cheer not boo” as the tournament kicks off tonight.

The move – hours after a national newspaper made the same call on its front page – is a victory for racial justice campaigners and Gordon Brown.

Ex-PM Mr Brown had said: “I do think it would be very bad for Britain if these culture wars started to develop, where people seized on one instance of someone doing something and tried to make it a big issue that divided the public rather than united the public.”

It also leaves embarrassed Tory Education Minister Gillian Keegan, who last night claimed taking a knee was “divisive”.

Asked if Boris Johnson supports England players taking the knee, a No10 spokesman replied: “Yes. The Prime Minister respects the rights of all people to peacefully protest and make their feelings known about injustices.” 

Asked if he would condemn those booing players, he replied: “I think the Prime Minister has spoken before about his desire for everybody to get behind the national team.

“And the Prime Minister would like to see everybody get behind the team to cheer them on, not boo.”