Dominic Raab criticised after comments that 'taking the knee' came from Game of Thrones

Joe Gamp
Contributor, Yahoo News UK

Dominic Raab has stressed that he has “full respect for the Black Lives Matter movement” after he faced criticism for saying he would only ‘take the knee’ for the Queen or his wife.

The foreign secretary was asked for his views on footballers taking the knee, which has become a symbol of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, during Wednesday’s Premier League games.

Speaking to TALKRadio, Raab said he would only take the knee “for the Queen and for the Mrs”. He added it felt more a symbol of “subjugation and subordination rather than one of liberation and empowerment” – and suggested that the protest gesture had “come from Game of Thrones”.

Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter before his team's game against Manchester City. (Pool via AP)

His comments were met with a mixture of outrage and ridicule on social media.

Labour MP Diane Abbott tweeted: “‘Taking the knee’ began in 2016 with American athletes refusing to stand for US national anthem. They were protesting police brutality and racism. But @DominicRaab thinks it comes from Game of Thrones!!!

Read more: In pictures: What the return of Premier League football looked like

Good Morning Britain presenter and commentator Piers Morgan took aim at the secretary of state, tweeting: “Unbelievable.. Foreign Secretary @DominicRaab thinks taking the knee is from Game of Thrones. This Government continues to shame us to the world.”

Raab later sought to clarify his remarks, adding that he has “full respect for the Black Lives Matter movement”.

He tweeted: “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.”

During the radio interview, Raab had 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 one of liberation and emancipation.

“But I understand people feel differently about it so it’s a matter of personal choice.”

Black Lives Matter demonstrators take to the knee in London's Trafalgar Square amid protests over the death of George Lloyd in the US. (AP)

He went on: “I take the knee for two people – the Queen and the Mrs when I asked her to marry me.”

The foreign secretary added: “By the way, she disputes that... I’m sure I did but we’d obviously had too much champagne at the time, but I’m certain I did.

Read more: UK should not 'airbrush' its history, but 'update' it, Dominic Raab says

Others such as Emily Thornberry and BBC satirist Nish Kumar also gave their thoughts of the first secretary of state’s comments.

Shadow justice secretary David Lammy said his comments were "insulting" and "deeply embarrassing".

Meanwhile, shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy described Raab’s statement as "really disrespectful".

In a separate interview on BBC Radio 4 Raab said the UK should be careful not to “airbrush” its history when questioned on the debate over statues in the UK,

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