Dominic Raab says he would not take the knee for Black Lives Matter as it is ‘a symbol of subjugation’
Dominic Raab said he only kneels for the Queen and his wife when asking her to marry him (PA)
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said he would not kneel in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement he views it as a “symbol of subjugation and subordination”.
It comes after players from Aston Villa and Sheffield United “took a knee” on Wednesday evening in support of the cause ahead of the first Premier League match since lockdown began.
Asked by talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer if he would also take the knee if asked, the Foreign Secretary said it was a “matter of personal choice”.
He said: “I understand this sense of frustration and restlessness which is driving the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I’ve got to say on this taking the knee thing which, I don't know, maybe it’s got a broader history, but seems to be taken from Game of Thrones.
“It feels to me like a symbol of subjugation and subordination rather than a one of liberation and emancipation.
“But I understand people feel differently about it, so it’s a matter of personal choice.”
Taking the knee was first popularised by American sportsman Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when he knelt during the national anthem before an NFL game.
The act is considered a peaceful protest against police brutality and racism in the United States and has been adopted widely during recent demonstrations across the world following the death of George Floyd in police custody.
When pushed by Ms Hartley-Brewer on whether he would kneel in solidarity with the movement, the Foreign Secretary said: “I take the knee for two people: the Queen and the Mrs when I asked her to marry me.”
Mr Raab later clarified his view, writing on Twitter: "To be clear: I have full respect for the Black Lives Matter movement, and the issues driving them.
"If people wish to take a knee, that’s their choice and I respect it. We all need to come together to tackle any discrimination and social injustice."
His comments attracted criticism from Labour MPs, with Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy tweeting: “This is not just insulting to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, it is deeply embarrassing for Dominic Raab.”
And Diane Abbott expressed disdain at the suggestion that taking the knee was from the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones, reminding her followers in a tweet that it began with “American athletes… protesting police brutality and racism”.
Shadow minister Wes Streeting said: “Every day, Government ministers flaunt their ignorance like it's a qualification. He's the Foreign Secretary.”
Elsewhere in his interview, Mr Raab was also critical of the decision to board up Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square.
Barriers around the monument are being taken down today, after being put up to protect it from vandalism during recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
He said: “The Prime Minister was absolutely clear it’s ridiculous. That was on the authority of GLA, the London Assembly.
“And the PM had made very clear, particularly at a moment when President Macron is coming over to pay tribute to the cooperation that de Gaulle got in France’s darkest hour from Churchill that we should be proud of that.”
And the Foreign Secretary also repeated past criticisms of those who damage or remove controversial statues, insisting we “should have a debate about our history”.