England star accuses Priti Patel of 'stoking fire' of racism


England star accuses Priti Patel of ‘stoking fire’ of racism

“They deserve support and backing, not the vile racist abuse they’ve had since last night. If you abuse anyone on social media, you’re not an England fan and we don’t want you.”

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson said: “To those who have been directing racist abuse at some of the players, I say shame on you and I hope you crawl back under the rock from which you emerged.”

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, added that the “toughest possible sanctions” need to be introduced to combat abuse on social media platforms and pointed to the Government’s Online Harms Bill, which will fine companies 10 per cent of their turnover if they fail to take down harmful content.

Campaigners and senior Tories warned that the Bill, which has been published in draft form but is yet to begin its passage through Parliament, did not go far enough to require companies to block abuse from being posted in the first place.

Julian Knight, the chairman of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee, accused the Government of “dragging its feet” and claimed ministers wanted the issue of online regulation to be “kicked into the long grass”.

“I am very concerned that the Online Safety Bill will mean that we could still see situations like this occur, and frankly it’s unacceptable,” he told The Telegraph.

The Telegraph understands that Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, is planning to intervene to make police forces and social media companies take racism directed at footballers more seriously.

Mr Dowden will work with the FA and the Premier League to make sure reports of abuse are followed up with police and the platforms on which abuse is posted.

“We want to look at some of the issues around reporting,” a source said. “Clubs say they report it but there seems to be a disconnect between widespread incidents of it happening and the consequences for the people doing it. The Secretary of State is pretty frustrated that we keep going around this loop and we aren’t seeing any movement.”

The source said ministers want to see “real world consequences” for people who send racist abuse.

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