Tory MP says he wouldn't 'take the knee' as it is 'showbizzy'
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Louie French, who won the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election earlier this month, believes taking the knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement had “lost its strength” but stressed he still strongly supported those who wished to carry out the gesture.
Mr French explained: “I wouldn’t personally look to be taking the knee.
“I respect the people’s right to campaign or protest, things that people feel strongly about.”
He added how he was “very proud” to support the England Football team, who have adopted the gesture, in order to tackle racism at home and overseas, especially when they come face to face with it at matches.
The Conservative MP said that racism anywhere was “completely unacceptable in this day and age”.
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But he claimed the gesture was “a bit showbizzy now” suggesting that taking the knee had “lost its strength”.
Asked whether he thought his comments would provoke upset in his constituency among those from BAME backgrounds, he disagreed.
He said: “I have got an excellent relationship with people in all different community groups.
“This is something that happens on the football pitch – I am not a footballer, I am here in Westminster.
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“Any form of racism is completely wrong and I am fully committed to support that.”
The MP stressed: “Racism is completely wrong.”
The taking the knee gesture was popularised following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020.
The murder sparked riots in Minneapolis and kickstarted a wave of protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement across the world.
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The England Football team adopted taking the knee before their Euro 2020 matches.
The gesture is now repeated before Premier League games.
Players vowed to continue the gesture through the 2021/2022 season.
In a statement in August, Premier League players said: “We feel now, more than ever, it is important for us to continue to take the knee as a symbol of our unity against all forms of racism.”
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