Downing Street has rejected Gary Neville’s accusation that Boris Johnson promoted racism by describing Muslim women as looking like “letterboxes” in a newspaper column before he became Tory leader.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman was speaking after racist abuse was sent to England’s footballers following the Euro 2020 final on Sunday night.
Sunday night saw England lose on penalties to Italy.
The spokesperson said: “I would utterly reject that claim. The Prime Minister set out this morning his response to some of the awful comments that we’ve seen.”
Asked about the former England footballer’s allegation that Mr Johnson and other ministers suggested it was fine to boo players taking the knee, the spokesman said: “It’s not accurate.
“The Prime Minister was clear that he wanted to see everyone getting behind the team to cheer them on. He made that clear on the 11th, before England’s first game.”
Downing Street has criticised England fans who stormed Wembley Stadium without tickets and caused trouble in Trafalgar Square.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Those scenes were unacceptable and we condemn violence, anti-social behaviour and abuse in the strongest possible terms.”
Asked whether the level of policing was adequate, the spokesman said: “As with all major policing operations there will be lessons to be learned.”
But he said Boris Johnson retains confidence in Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, saying: “He does have confidence.”
Shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens said if she was the prime minister or the home secretary she would be “embarrassed” and “probably ashamed” at the words they used and their conduct at the start of the Euro 2020 tournament surrounding players taking the knee.