Lloyd Evans

PMQs: Boris fluffed his response to England taking the knee

PMQs: Boris fluffed his response to England taking the knee
(Photo: Jessica Taylor / UK Parliament)
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Who won the Euros? Race-baiters clearly. Sir Keir Starmer spent most of PMQs trying to label Boris as a bigot.

The Labour leader craftily wove several arguments into one. He claimed that by failing to condemn fans who booed the BLM-inspired rite of genuflection, Boris was responsible for the abuse suffered by black players after the match.

The PM had many powerful and obvious lines of defence. But he failed to use them. He fluffed it completely. He ignored a BBC report suggesting that most of the online abuse originated abroad. He didn’t mention that BLM is a political movement whose Marxist supporters want to close prisons and abolish police forces. Nor did he say that booing such an idiotic manifesto is simply common sense. And football is supposed to be politics-free so the jeers of the crowd may have been directed at the authorities who have allowed their sport to become the plaything of revolutionaries.

Sir Keir brought up Marcus Rashford (the England team’s education secretary) and praised him for ‘feeding children that the government won’t’. But Rashford has simply forced the government to make taxpayers fund youngsters’ school meals instead of their parents. That’s not ‘feeding children’.

Sir Keir turned to Tyrone Mings (the England team’s home office spokesman) who has criticised Priti Patel for calling pre-match genuflections, ‘gesture politics.’ Her remark, stated Mings, had stoked the fires of racism. It’s helpful to Sir Keir that the Mings Doctrine has already been endorsed by the Tory outcast, Johnny Mercer. Sir Keir quoted him with enthusiasm. ‘I am very uncomfortable,’ said Johnny, ‘with the position we Conservatives are needlessly forcing ourselves into.’ Note the wording, ‘we Conservatives.’ He equates his lone voice with the views of entire movement.

But one feels a pang of sympathy for poor old Cap’n Mercer of the Royal Horse Artillery. With his easy manner, his good looks, his unstuffy personality and his heroic military background, Johnny doubtless feels a bit miffed that destiny has overlooked his many claims for preferment. Perhaps he’s already contemplating the Bercow Trail from one political wilderness to another. His sniffy asides are certainly useful to the Labour party. How long before he joins them?

A handful of MPs called for ‘freedom day’ to be scrapped. Hywel Williams of Plaid Cymru said he was ‘aghast’ to see the English preparing to reclaim their liberty. He warned tourists visiting Wales to observe its stringent rules to the letter. How ironic. A party that that once stood for a free Wales now it wants its citizens under house arrest forever.

The most significant power-grab came from Labour’s Clive Efford. He called ‘freedom day’ a ‘reckless gamble’ and he mentioned a constituent, Jackie, who suffers from a chronic illness that makes her fearful of ever leaving home again after Monday – even to visit the shops. Efford happily exploited the physical and mental frailties of his constituent in order to satisfy his warped desire to control everyone’s movements. He added an interesting footnote. ‘And yes,’ he called out, ‘Jackie did vote for Remain.’

So the Lockdown Forever Club are the same people who were desperate to live under the jackboot of the EU. Now it makes sense.