GB News presenter Guto Harri takes the knee live on air – and some viewers aren’t impressed

GB News presenter Guto Harri takes the knee live on air – and some viewers aren’t impressed

GB News is still in its infancy, but it’s already no stranger to controversy.

The “anti-woke” channel, which touts itself as a counter to the “metropolitan mindset”, is not afraid to ruffle feathers, but not many of us expected it to rile up its more right-wing viewers within a month of its launch.

This is, however, what presenter Guto Harri has done after taking a knee live on air.

The broadcaster and political commentator stepped in to cover Colin Brazier on Tuesday’s ‘Brazier and Muroki’ show when the incident occurred.

He and Mercy Muroki – one of the author’s of this year’s contentious report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities who is now part of the GB News team – were discussing the racist fallout from England’s Euro 2020 defeat when he grew increasingly animated.

Their conversation centred on the backlash facing Home Secretary Priti Patel who, this week, condemned the abuse suffered by Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, just days after dismissing the national football team’s taking of the knee before every match as “gesture politics.”

Muroki was arguing that being against taking the knee is not the same as being pro-racism, when Harri defended the “gesture” before carrying it out himself.

He told his co-host: “I’ve never understood why people would find it offensive.

“I tended to be one of those people that thought ‘do we really have to do this at every football match, can’t we just enjoy whatever sport we’re in to?,’ but having seen over the last few days just how close to the surface, just how deep-rooted, just how hideously ugly racism among some English football fans is, I totally get why this squad throughout thought we have to say, day in, day out, every time we get on the field that racism is not on.”

He continued: “Actually, with the benefit of hindsight, I may have underestimated how close to the surface the racism still was, [but] I actually now get.

“So much so that I actually think we should all take the knee. In fact, why not take the knee now and say it’s a gesture but it’s an important gesture?”

At that point he got up from his sofa seat and knelt down on the floor.

Continuing his monologue, he said: “It’s not about me in the studio but for them to do that as footballers on the field makes sense.

“Because they’re saying it’s just not right and racism has no place in football and no place in modern Britain.

He went on: “And those people who think that being English is OK with being anti-black people are completely misguided and they need to know there is no space for them in normal, acceptable society.”

The GB News stand-in soon got back on his feet to move on with the show, but his actions certainly floored scores of viewers.

Many of them lamented his behaviour as a sign that the channel is not so different from mainstream media after all, with one suggesting it had “let [itself down]” by what they viewed as a show of support to Black Lives Matter.

Here’s what furious former-fans had to say:

However, other Twitter users relished the display:

It all comes after England footballer Tyrone Mings accused the Home Secretary of “stoking the fire” of racism during the major footballing tournament.

Patel was among those to criticise the “vile” racist abuse to which the three young Black players have been subjected, writing on Twitter: “It has no place in our country and I back the police to hold those responsible accountable.”

However, in biting response, 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 at racial injustice.

Here’s what he had to say:

Patel declined to comment on his assessment.

Last month, the Home Secretary 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.

She told GB News at the time: “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.”

The symbol of anti-racism solidarity gained attention in American football in 2016 as players protested against police brutality and racism in the US.

The act has since spread further and was adopted by footballers in the UK, partly to demonstrate that racism should not be tolerated in the sport.

Senior Government minister Stephen Barclay is among those who have sought to defend Patel in the wake of Mings’ scathing message, telling Sky News on Tuesday morning: “The Home Secretary has repeatedly taken a stand against racism”, adding that “[she] herself has been the subject of appalling online racist abuse.”

He continued by stressing: “She has consistently condemned racist abuse online and she has taken action as Home Secretary against some of the extreme right-wing groups that are responsible for this.”

But former Tory Party chairwoman Baroness Warsi is one of a number of Conservative commentators to criticise Patel over her stance, accusing both her and the Government of “dog whistle” politics.

“It’s time to stop the culture wars that are feeding division,” Baroness Warsi tweeted.

“Dog whistles win votes but destroy nations.”

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