Conservative MP Lee Anderson is refusing to abandon his boycott of the England team over taking the knee — but will check his phone to see if they have scored in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday.
The MP for Ashfield has faced widespread derision for his decision to refuse to watch Gareth Southgate’s team in protest at their anti-racism stance gesture before matches.
“For the first time in my life I will not be watching my beloved England team whilst they are supporting a political movement whose core principles aim to undermine our very way of life,” he said in a Facebook post in June.
Southgate backed his players after some adverse reactions to the gesture and booing from some fans, saying that his team were “more than ever determined to take the knee”.
Since then the Three Lions have gone from strength to strength and have been cheered on by Mr Anderson’s Tory party colleagues, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Despite the country getting to its first major tournament final since 1966, Mr Anderson confirmed in a Facebook video on Thursday that he is sticking to his boycott.
Dressed in a Three Lions t-shirt, he said: “I’ve had a bit of a torrid week actually, lots of emails, a bit of abuse – but that’s normal – about my decision not to watch the England matches,” he said.
“That’s my decision, I’m not forcing my views on anybody else.
“I don’t like the taking the knee business, I think it associates with the Black Lives Matter movement – I know the England players don’t think it does but it does, it does to me.
“But that’s their choice to take the knee and it’s my choice not to watch the matches.
“But I will be supporting England on Sunday night… I’m going to check my phone for updates to see if they’ve scored and cheer if they have.
“I hope they win and I hope it comes home.”
Labour have even launched a petition, urging the MP not to watch the game on Sunday claiming he is a “jinx”.
The petition states: “Sulky Tory MP Lee Anderson hasn’t been cheering England’s heroes like the rest of us because he doesn’t like their simple act of anti-racism.
“As Anderson was born in 1967 we think maybe he’s been the jinx all along. Reaching our first final since before he was born is such a great feeling. But it’s not enough.We want to finish the job on Sunday.
“So we’re saying: Anderson, stay away, do the housework, watch Midsomer Murders, anything.And keep up your pathetic one-man boycott for one more game.”
However another prominent critic of the England team’s actions has had a sudden volte-face as the final looms large against the impressive Italians.
Actor and former London mayoral candidate Laurence Fox previously branded Southgate’s side “millionaire woke babies” and said he hoped that the team would get knocked out of the tournament.
However in a series of tweets on Thursday night Mr Fox said: “It’s hard to admit when you’ve made a mistake, but as I tell my kids it’s important to acknowledge it when you think you have.
“So here goes. I have always been behind England in any sport and any English team in any competition.”
He added that taking the knee was still a “deep insult” but that wanting England to lose for the gesture was a “step too far.”