A Tory MP has told Tyrone Mings to “focus on football, not politics” after the England footballer hit out at Priti Patel over her her condemnation of the racist abuse faced by his teammates.
Politicians and public figures have slammed the racist hate faced by England players, in particular Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, on social media following their Euro 2020 final defeat.
Patel, the home secretary, was among those to criticise the “vile” racist abuse that the players have been subjected to, writing on Twitter: “It has no place in our country and I back the police to hold those responsible accountable.”
However, in a response posted on Twitter, England defender Mings claimed Patel had “stoke(d) the fire” after she previously refused to criticise fans who booed the team for taking the knee in protest against racial injustice.
He said: “You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens.”
Johnny Mercer, a former defence minister, said of Mings’ tweet: “The painful truth is that this guy is completely right. Very uncomfortable with the position we Conservatives are needlessly forcing ourselves into. Do I fight it or stay silent? Modern Conservatism was always so much more to me. We must not lose our way.”
But Andrew Rosindell, the Conservative MP for Romford, rowed in behind the home secretary, tweeting on Tuesday that Mings should stick to football.
He said: “We are all proud of our England team, who have had the support of the whole country over recent weeks, but please focus on football, not politics. If you win for England, you win for everyone!”
We are all proud of our England team, who have had the support of the whole country over recent weeks, but please focus of football, not politics. If you win for England, you win for everyone! ????????? https://t.co/kZVM5Y2Z1Z— Andrew Rosindell MP (@AndrewRosindell) July 13, 2021
Last month, Patel called taking the knee “gesture politics” after Gareth Southgate’s side faced jeers from a minority of fans at their first match of Euro 2020.
Asked about taking the knee, she told GB News: “I just don’t support people participating in that type of gesture, gesture politics, to a certain extent, as well.”
On whether England fans were right to boo the national team, she said: “That’s a choice for them, quite frankly.”
Former Tory Party chairwoman Baroness Warsi also criticised Ms Patel after her tweet, suggesting the Home Secretary and the Government were guilty of “dog whistle” politics.
“It’s time to stop the culture wars that are feeding division,” the Conservative peer tweeted. “Dog whistles win votes but destroy nations.”
Related: Tyrone Mings blasts Priti Patel after racism mires Euros final