Tech chiefs called in to No 10 over racist posts to England players

Boris Johnson to demand that tech firms do more to tackle online abuse

Boris Johnson has summoned tech companies to Downing Street to order them to do more to tackle online abuse, amid mounting criticism of the government after black England players were deluged with racist posts in the aftermath of their Euro 2020 defeat.

The England footballer Tyrone Mings has criticised the home secretary, Priti Patel, for her condemnation of the racist abuse faced by his teammates, after she called players taking the knee “gesture politics”.

He said Patel did not get to “stoke the fire” ahead of the tournament and then “pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens”.

Sign up to TechScape, Alex Hern’s weekly tech newsletter, starting Wednesday 14 July.

Johnson will meet executives from the social media firms in person, and will ask them to hand over the details of those who posted racist content online to the police.

His official spokesperson said Johnson would “reiterate the urgent need for action ahead of tougher laws coming into force in the online harms bill” and that there was “no question that abuse was upsetting, unfair and must be stamped out”.

Asked whether No 10 agreed with a government source who said the perpetrators should have their details handed over so that they can be made an example of, they said: “Yes, we expect social media companies to do everything they can to identify these people.

“The police already have a range of powers to identify and pursue those who use anonymity to spread hatred, but we have committed to strengthening the criminal law in this area.”

Concern is growing among some Conservative advisers and MPs that the strategy of pivoting towards the culture wars was backfiring.

One senior Tory called the situation “embarrassing” and highlighted the Conservative MP Lee Anderson who said he would not watch the team because they took the knee. “It was absolutely tragic, it’s a laughing stock,” they said.

“I think there needs to be a serious realisation soon in government that people simply don’t care about the culture war crap. They care about the cost of living, NHS and crime. They don’t want to see us starting fights with Marcus Rashford.”

The former Conservative minister, Johnny Mercer, tweeted of Mings: “The painful truth is that this guy is completely right.”

Mercer said more of his Conservative colleagues should speak out. “We have some great colleagues in the party who reflect this – I am in no way alone. But more must have the courage to speak up, instead of remaining silent in some weird attempt to curry favour.”

Ged Grebby, the chief executive of Show Racism the Red Card, applauded Mings for highlighting the “hypocrisy” of some politicians and government ministers.

“Tyrone hit the nail on the head,” he said. “When the players made a stand against racism by taking the knee at the beginning of the tournament, government ministers like Boris Johnson and Priti Patel did not support their stance and in fact they spoke against it,” he added.

“It is no good condemning racism after it has happened when you did not support the players at the beginning – it is now a case of jumping on the bandwagon,” he continued.


Jessica Elgot, Rowena Mason and Nazia Parveen

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The Guardian view on Rashford, Sancho and Saka: let down by dog whistles from Downing Street | Editorial
Editorial: The prime minister should have done more to defend the England team against a racist minority


12, Jul, 2021 @6:11 PM

Article image
Johnson and Patel accused of hypocrisy over racist abuse of England footballers
England footballer Tyrone Mings adds voice to criticism of politicians over football racism

Rowena Mason Deputy political editor

12, Jul, 2021 @2:40 PM

Article image
‘A lasting legacy of tolerance’: Marcus Rashford messages to be preserved
Notes left on defaced Manchester mural will be removed to protect from rain, amid plans for digital exhibition

Maya Wolfe-Robinson

21, Jul, 2021 @3:38 PM

Article image
Boris Johnson condemns ‘appalling’ racist abuse of England players
The FA has issued a statement and the Metropolitan police will open an investigation into racist messages sent to a number of players

Niall McVeigh and Rachel Hall

12, Jul, 2021 @7:02 AM

Article image
‘Southgate’s team represents real England’: Three Lions unite country
England team effort to combat racist abuse is profound for fans from minority backgrounds

Nazia Parveen Community affairs correspondent

09, Jul, 2021 @2:09 PM

Article image
Manchester shows support for Marcus Rashford: ‘It’s evolved into something special’
Community comes together to back England footballer and oppose racism after mural was defaced

Maya Wolfe-Robinson

13, Jul, 2021 @6:43 PM

Article image
Despite the racist trolls, the evidence is clear: England is becoming a kinder place to live | Sunder Katwala
Toxic bigotry is in retreat across society, though social media can make us feel otherwise

Sunder Katwala

18, Jul, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
UK Covid: Johnson urges people to take unlocking ‘as slowly as we can’ amid 34,471 new cases – as it happened
Latest updates: prime minister urges caution as he confirms 19 July England unlocking; Sage data shows hospitalisation could hit at least 1,000 a day

Andrew Sparrow

12, Jul, 2021 @5:41 PM

Article image
Man sentenced over racist post after Euro 2020 final
Scott McCluskey, 43, given 14-week suspended sentence and must wear electronic tag for 40 weeks

Maya Wolfe-Robinson

08, Sep, 2021 @5:13 PM

Article image
Footballers can say it, but for England’s politicians, ‘sorry’ really is the hardest word | Marina Hyde
The emotional maturity of the Euro 2020 players is in stark contrast to that of the government, says Guardian columnist Marina Hyde

Marina Hyde

13, Jul, 2021 @2:40 PM