Sunday, September 19

Boris Johnson accused of ‘doing nothing’ to stop racist abuse of England team with weak and delayed online harms bill

Boris Johnson accused of ‘doing nothing’ to stop racist abuse of England team with weak and delayed online harms bill

Boris Johnson has been accused of doing nothing to stop racist abuse of the England team by weakening and delaying legislation to police online hate speech.

Labour accused the prime minister of offering only “warm words and gigantic England flags” while actually turning a “blind eye” to abuse.

Mr Johnson on Monday issued a statement condemning fans’ racist abuse of players following Italy’s Euro 2020 final defeat on penalties at Wembley on Sunday night.

But the opposition says he is not using the powers he has to help stop the abuse, which saw England players compared to slaves and the use of racial epithets.

The party says the government’s upcoming Online Harms Bill is “a weak Bill which would do nothing to prevent this disgusting abuse from being published on social media”.

And it says in government Labour would instead push for criminal sanctions for senior tech executives for “repeated failure to enforce the rules”.

“The horrific racist abuse of the England penalty-takers had a disappointing inevitability to it,” said Jo Stevens, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

“Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have the means to stop this hatred on their platforms and yet they decide to do nothing.about:blankjavascript:void(0)javascript:void(0)✕Skip in 5about:blank

“Meanwhile the Government’s long-promised Online Safety Bill has yet again been delayed with progress unlikely to get underway until after the summer.”

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She added: “No one should have to put up with this abuse online, social media companies’ self-regulation has to end and instead we need tough new laws.‘A fire they poured petrol on’: Boris Johnson and Priti Patel condemned over football racism ‘hypocrisy’

“The Prime Minister has previously done no more than turned a blind eye to racism against our players. Warm words and gigantic England flags are no substitute for using the power he has, to make it stop.”

Mr Johnson’s government has been criticised in the wake of the racism because some of its ministers have been less than supportive of England players’ efforts to take a stand.

The whole squad has been “taking a knee” in protest at the start of every game, but Home Secretary Priti Patel kicked off the tournament by confirming fans had a right to boo players doing so and condemning the team for “gesture” politics.

A spokesperson for Mr Johnson himself repeatedly refused to condemn fans for jeering the players.

England's Bukayo Saka with manager Gareth Southgate after the match

But following the outburst in the early hours of Monday morning, Mr Johnson tweeted: “This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media.

“Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.”

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