UK

Home Secretary Priti Patel says she would refuse to take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter

Home Secretary Priti Patel says she would refuse to take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter as she says attacks on statues were ‘dreadful’ and tells protesters ‘there are other ways to have those discussions’

  • The Home Secretary attacked the demonstrations that swept the globe in 2020
  • UK demos saw statues of historical figures associated with slavery pulled down 
  • She told LBC: ‘I didn’t support the protests. Those protests were dreadful.’ 

Priti Patel revealed she would refuse to ‘take a knee’ in support of Black Lives Matter today as she branded the protests that swept the UK last year as ‘disgraceful’.

The Home Secretary attacked the demonstrations that swept the globe in 2020 after a wave of extra-judicial killings of black Americans.

The British arm of the protests saw statues of historical figures associated with slavery pulled down – and one of Winston Churchill outside Parliament defaced with graffiti accusing him of racism.

And it has led to a wave of action across the UK to re-examine the country’s imperial past, with has led to condemnation from Tory ministers. 

Appearing on LBC radio Ms Patel said: ‘Last summer was quite a moment with all the protest that we saw taking place.

‘We saw policing as well coming under a great deal of pressure from some of the protest. I don’t support protest and I also did not support the protests that were associated…’

Interrupted, she sought to clarify that she was not criticising the right to protest but rather the ‘dreadful’ action last year.

Ms Patel said she would not take the knee herself, and asked if she agrees with the gesture more generally, she replied: ‘No I wouldn’t, and I would not have done at the time either. 

‘There are other ways in which people can express their opinions, protesting in the way that people did last summer was not the right way at all.’ 

The British arm of the protests saw statues of historical figures associated with slavery pulled down – and one of Winston Churchill outside Parliament defaced with graffiti accusing him of racism.

Asked on radio station LBC if she would be prepared to take a knee, Ms Patel replied: 'No I wouldn't - there are other ways to have those discussions...

Asked on radio station LBC if she would be prepared to take a knee, Ms Patel replied: ‘No I wouldn’t – there are other ways to have those discussions…

Footballers continue to take a knee before matches, including at the Barnsley v Chelsea FA Cup game in Yorkshire last night (pictured)

Footballers continue to take a knee before matches, including at the Barnsley v Chelsea FA Cup game in Yorkshire last night (pictured)

It came after Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg accused Sadiq Khan of overseeing ‘loony left-wing wheezes’  over a new body that could remove statues and alter street names in the capital that are deemed offensive.

The Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm includes an academic who implied that all international examples of white supremacy can be traced back to Britain, and a campaigner who once confronted the Queen to demand she apologise for historical injustices.     

The homepage of the commission notes that London’s statues, plaques and street names ‘largely reflect a bygone era’ and it seeks to improve diversity in public spaces.

It prompted a colourful response from patrician Mr Rees-Mogg, who branded the mayor ‘Red Khan’. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner taking a knee last year

Labour leader Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner taking a knee last year

The Commons Leader said councils should be responsible for naming streets, with the MP for North East Somerset advising Sadiq Khan to not ‘interfere in things that aren’t his responsibility’. 

‘Who would have thought that you’d have a more left-wing leader of London than Ken Livingstone? And now we do, and Red Khan is he,’ Mr Rees-Mogg told the Commons.

‘It is quite wrong that these loony left-wing wheezes should be inflicted upon our great metropolis, and I think the mayor in his zeal is potentially treading on the toes of councils anyway – that councils have the right to name streets, by and large, not the Mayor of London, and I don’t think he should interfere in things that aren’t his responsibility.

‘As I was saying on the honours list, we should celebrate and glory in our wonderful history and in the great heroes of our nation going back over centuries.’

It came as Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the City of London risks damaging its ‘rich history’ if it goes through with a BLM-inspired bid to topple two statues. 

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