Home secretary Priti Patel has said she would refuse to take the knee as she called last year’s mid-lockdown protests against racial injustice “dreadful”.
The minister told LBC radio she disagrees with the gesture, which is a sign of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Demonstrations swept the globe last year in the wake of the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, US.
Floyd could be heard to say “I can’t breathe” as the officer pressed his knee into his neck for almost nine minutes.
Speaking on Friday, Patel said the protests marked “quite a moment” but the fact that they took place during the pandemic put pressure on police forces in the UK.
She told LBC: “Last summer was quite a moment with all the protest that we saw taking place.
“We saw policing as well coming under a great deal of pressure from some of the protest. I don’t support protest and I also did not support the protests that were associated…”
When host Nick Ferrari stepped in, Patel clarified she was not criticising the right to protest itself, but rather the “dreadful” action last year.
Patel said she would not take the knee, and asked if she agrees with the gesture more generally, she replied: “No.”
The home secretary was also asked about reports that she called on Boris Johnson to close the borders last year, amid fears new strains of Covid could be imported.
The prime minister is under pressure to introduce mandatory quarantine for all people arriving to the UK from abroad.
Instead, the government has introduced a “red list” of quarantine countries in a scheme that comes into force on Monday.
Patel said she did “air views” with the prime minister over borders, but added the Cabinet came to “a collective decision”.