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Angela Rayner stokes England players’ racism row with ‘arsonists’ jibe at Boris and Priti Patel

Labour’s Angela Rayner made the incendiary remark amid widespread public revulsion at social media hatred shown towards Three Lions stars who missed penalties in last night’s Euro 2020 defeat

Boris Johnson and Priti Patel were accused of behaving like ‘arsonists’ complaining about a fire they started today after they condemned abuse faced by black England footballers.

Labour’s Angela Rayner made the incendiary remark amid widespread public revulsion at social media hatred shown towards Three Lions stars who missed penalties in last night’s Euro 2020 defeat.

Both Mr Johnson and Ms Patel took to social media to condemn mindless social media morons who bombarded Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho with abuse after the Wembley heartbreak.

England boss Gareth Southgate and Prince William also went public to state the abuse was unacceptable.

But many people pointed out that it is only a few weeks since Ms Patel slammed players’ who took the knee in an anti-racism protest before games – including last night’s final – and said fans had a right to boo them for doing so.

Mr Johnson has also equivocated over the protest that originated with the Black Lives Matter movement in the US – although he has urged fans not to boo in recent weeks.

Today Ms Rayner said ‘The Prime Minister and the Home Secretary gave license to the racists who booed the England players and are now racially abusing England players.

‘Boris Johnson and Priti Patel are like arsonists complaining about a fire they poured petrol on. Total hypocrites.’

Party leader Keir Starmer later doubled down, telling reporters: ‘This is about leadership, and I’m afraid the Prime Minister has failed the test of leadership because whatever he says today about racism he had a simple choice at the beginning of this tournament in relation to the booing of those who were taking the knee.’ 

Former England star Gary Neville also waded in, saying: ‘The Prime Minister said it was OK for the population of this country to boo those players who were trying to promote equality and defend against racism. It starts at the very top.’ 

Both Mr Johnson and Ms Patel took to social media to condemn mindless social media morons who bombarded Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho with abuse after the Wembley heartbreak.

Both Mr Johnson and Ms Patel took to social media to condemn mindless social media morons who bombarded Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho with abuse after the Wembley heartbreak.

Many people pointed out that it is only a few weeks since Ms Patel slammed players' who took the knee in an anti-racism protest before games - including last night's final - and said fans had a right to boo them for doing so.

Many people pointed out that it is only a few weeks since Ms Patel slammed players’ who took the knee in an anti-racism protest before games – including last night’s final – and said fans had a right to boo them for doing so.

England's midfielder Kalvin Phillips and an Italian opponent take the knee before the start of the Euro 2020 final last night at Wembley

England’s midfielder Kalvin Phillips and an Italian opponent take the knee before the start of the Euro 2020 final last night at Wembley 

Tory MP’s grovelling apology for criticising England ace Rashford 

A Tory backbencher was forced to backtrack today after a horrific own goal attack on England star Marcus Rashford over his missed Euro 2020 penalty.

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke suggested the Manchester United star should have practised spot kicks instead of campaigning for free meals for deprived schoolchildren during lockdown.

She made the remark in a Tory MP WhatsApp group after the Three Lions’ Euro 2020 defeat on penalties to Italy at Wembley last night. 

Manchester United striker Rashford was one of three England players to miss in the deciding shoot-out in the Three Lions’ first major final in 55 years.

In a message first revealed by GB News, Mrs Elphicke told other Tories: ‘They lost – would it be ungenerous to suggest Rashford should have spent more time perfecting his game and less time playing politics.(sic)’ 

But today, after her comments were leaked and widely criticised she took to Twitter to heap praise on the team.

‘Last night I shared the frustration and heartbreak of millions of England fans,’ she said.

‘The team gave their all. Congratulations and onwards to the World Cup!’

Facebook and Instagram this morning said it had tried to remove comments and accounts directing abuse at England’s footballers, but many were still visible this lunchtime.

The huge tech firm insisted: ‘No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to keeping our community safe from abuse.’ 

Prince William led earlier calls to stop the posts and said he was sickened by racist abuse of the England team, branding vile slurs at players ‘totally unacceptable’.

The Duke of Cambridge, who was at the game last night with Kate and George, called for those behind the messages to be punished. 

The PM echoed the Football Association’s condemnation of those attacking the players after the team lost to Italy.

Mr Johnson said: ‘This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media.

‘Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.

Home Secretary Priti Patel also headed up figures slamming the racists.

She said: ‘Players who have given so much for our country this summer have been subject to vile racist abuse on social media.

‘It has no place in our country and I back the police to hold those responsible accountable.’

A month ago Mr Johnson slapped down Priti Patel after she attacked England’s footballers for taking the knee before games.

The Home Secretary used an interview with GB News to accuse players of ‘gesture politics’ after their symbolic anti-racism protest before beating Croatia at Wembley.  

She also  refused to criticise fans at the Euro 2020 opener who booed the team when they made the symbolic anti-racism gesture before kick-off.  

Ms Patel said it was ‘choice for them’ after Gareth Southgate’s side faced jeers from a minority of fans before the game, which they went on to win 1-0. 

But the PM has faced accusations that he was earlier  equivocal over the booing by England fans. A few days beforehand his official spokesman declined to condemn those who booed players, only going so far as urging them to be ‘respectful’.

It came as a Tory MP was forced to backtrack today after a horrific own goal attack on England star Marcus Rashford over his missed Euro 2020 penalty.

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke suggested the Manchester United star should have practised spot kicks instead of campaigning for free meals for deprived schoolchildren during lockdown.

She made the remark in a Tory MP WhatsApp group after the Three Lions’ Euro 2020 defeat on penalties to Italy at Wembley last night. 

 Ms Rayner Labour’s deputy leader, added: ‘While the country was commiserating our great team, Tory MPs were sneering at an inspirational player who stepped up to feed hungry kids when they voted to leave them without food.

‘Whether it’s their failure to support the vulnerable, or booing our boys after they have done our whole country proud, the Nasty Party is back.

‘The question every Conservative MP needs to answer is – did they call out these appalling comments? 

‘And after his failure to support our players in their stance against racism, Boris Johnson must publicly condemn these disgraceful messages. Whose side is he on, the lion hearts on the pitch or the Tory MPs who attack them.’


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