PMQs: Keir Starmer slams Boris Johnson over 'gesture politics' comments about taking the knee
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Mr Kwarteng stressed he would never “disrespect” those that chose to take the knee but said he was a man who focused “on actual outcomes” and taking “action”. He went on to slam how “gestures” are popular in corporate companies but said how despite saying the “right things, their mindset hasn’t changed” in attitudes towards racial equality. The Business Secretary went on to condemn the booing by fans of England players who took the knee at this years Euro2020.
Mr Kwarteng said: “People used to throw banana’s at black players so there has always been an ugly element to this.
“I don’t think Priti Patel caused that, I think it has been in the game, regrettably, for many decades.
“And a lot of these trolls probably weren’t listening to what Priti Patel was saying, they had their views and they expressed their ugly opinions in the way we all know.
LBC host Nick Ferrari then asked Mr Kwarteng if he would take the knee.
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Mr Kwarteng replied: “No I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t because I think it is a gesture.
“And much more I have always been in my career someone focused on actual outcomes.
“I want to do things, I want to change actual things but I totally respect peoples right to do that.”
Mr Kwarteng went on to explain how the “gesture” is “not addressing the issue”.
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The Business Secretary drew on example in the corporate world where taking the knee is deployed but he doubted that the actions make any real difference.
He said: “You see this in some companies, they kind of go through the motions – they say the right things, but their mindset hasn’t changed.
“It’s a way of saying ‘I share your pain’ but [they’re] not actually thinking about the issue and how you can change peoples racial attitudes and combat prejudice.
“So I have always had the view that I am much more action orientated.”
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But he stressed he did not object at all to those that chose to take the knee.
He explained: “But again I don’t disrespect or call people names who do that. If they chose to do that, that’s up to them.
“But they shouldn’t be booed, I have always been against that.”
His comments come as England players Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho faced a torrent of racist online abuse for missing penalities in the Euro2020 final against Italy which saw some members of the England team to accuse the government of stoking division over the taking of the knee.
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