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Boris Johnson is on the wrong side of his own ‘culture war’ and he knows it – no wonder he was squirming

Public opinion has swung round in support of footballers protesting against racism, and Keir Starmer saw an opportunity to take the prime minister apart over it, says John Rentoul

Wednesday 14 July 2021 14:21 BST
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Starmer made Johnson look uneasy at PMQs on Wednesday
Starmer made Johnson look uneasy at PMQs on Wednesday (UK Parliament)

I haven’t seen Boris Johnson look so uncomfortable in Prime Minister’s Questions for at least a year. Keir Starmer took him apart over his inconsistent position on England players taking the knee, and the prime minister didn’t like it one bit.

Before the Euro tournament began, Johnson refused to condemn fans who booed players who took the knee in their protest against racism. At the time public opinion was divided on taking the knee, and Conservatives regarded the photo of Starmer and Angela Rayner, his deputy, kneeling in the leader of the opposition’s office in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protests as a mistake that would come back to haunt Labour.

Instead, public opinion has swung round in support of footballers protesting against racism, while those who booed, and those who refused to condemn those who booed, have put themselves on the wrong side of the culture war – the side of the racists who abused black players on social media after Sunday’s final.

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