Boris Johnson should ‘study at Gareth Southgate school of leadership’, says Labour

England manager embodies ‘hard work, discipline, and preparation,’ says opposition

Adam Forrest
Thursday 08 July 2021 15:52
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Related video: Gary Neville makes dig about leadership after England victory

Boris Johnson should spend some time “studying at the Gareth Southgate school of leadership” and learn the value of hard work, Labour has said.

Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire, shadow Commons leader, hailed the England manager for backing his players in “their campaigning for social and racial justice, even under criticism”.

She also said the prime minister should “honour” the England team by focusing on things which embody the best of British values – such as international aid, the NHS and a Covid public inquiry.

Speaking in the Commons after the semi-final win against Denmark, Ms Debbonaire said: “In contrast to the prime minister, Gareth Southgate and the England team value hard work, discipline, and preparation.

“The British people seem to appreciate those qualities, so for the sake of our country ... I hope the prime minister can spend some time over the next few days studying at the Gareth Southgate school of leadership.”

The Labour frontbencher added: “The British people will be asking themselves who they want to lead them – do they want someone who works hard and has a relentless focus on embodying British values, or do they want the current prime minister?”

Mr Johnson praised Mr Southgate’s management style on Thursday, saying the England manager has done an “absolutely outstanding job” during Euro 2020.

Asked if it could soon be Sir Gareth, the prime minister told broadcasters: “I obviously wouldn’t want to anticipate anything that the honours people may decide. But clearly I think Gareth Southgate has done an absolutely outstanding job.”

Mr Johnson added: “What seems so amazing to me is how he varies it, he mixes it up, and plays a different series of options depending on the match in question. So best of luck for Sunday.”

Asked about the possibility of a bank holiday on Monday, following the final against Italy on Sunday night, the prime minister said: “I think that would be tempting fate, let’s see what happens.”

Gareth Southgate has won praise from MPs

Asked whether the PM would encourage employers to give staff the day off on Monday if England win, Mr Johnson’s official spokesperson later said: “We would want businesses who feel able to to consider it if they can, but we recognise it will vary depending on the company. It will rightly be a matter for them.

“They will be in different circumstances and obviously we recognise that it has been a difficult time for many businesses from the pandemic. Those who feel able will do so, I’m sure, but it is not something for us to impose a rule on.”

The spokesperson said there were “no plans” to increase the maximum permitted attendance at the final on Sunday in the light of England’s involvement.

And he declined to say whether the team would be able to take part in a victory parade or open-bus tour if they win the final while Covid restrictions are still in place.

“I don’t want to preempt the outcome of the match,” he said. “Clearly we want England to go all the way and then we will set out plans in due course.”

The spokesman said the PM did not want to see England fans booing other teams’ national anthems.

Jacob Rees-Mogg recites John Barnes' 'World in Motion' rap in parliament

Elsewhere on Thursday, Jacob Rees-Mogg recited the John Barnes rap from World In Motion as England fever swept through the House of Commons.

“Can I reassure you, Mr Speaker, that we ain’t no hooligans, this ain’t a football song – Three Lions on my chest, I know we can’t go wrong,” he joked. “Or as another John put it, John Dryden, for they can conquer who believe they can.”

ITV pundit Gary Neville also contrasted Mr Southgate with the country’s political leaders after the semi-final victory at Wembley.

“The standard of leaders in this country the past couple of years has been poor, looking at that man [Southgate], he’s everything a leader should be, respectful, humble, he tells the truth.”

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