Nigel Farage has dig at ‘confused’ Lee Anderson over England Euros boycott

Nigel Farage has had a dig at his party’s first ever MP, Lee Anderson – saying he “got confused” when he boycotted the England team.

The Reform UK leader made the remark when questioned by The Mirror about Mr Anderson’s public strop at the last European Championships. Mr Anderson, then a Tory backbencher, refused to watch any England matches because players took the knee during the tournament – a decision that saw him lambasted by football fans.

Asked if the boycott was a patriotic thing to do, Mr Farage – who has claimed to be on the side of “genuinely patriotic people” – said: “Lee got himself confused – could he support the England team when they took the knee?” But he went on to say that he was “horrified” when players made the gesture – a show of their opposition to racism.

The 2024 Euros kick off on Friday, with England set to open their campaign against Serbia on Sunday. It is unclear if any teams will again be taking the knee at the tournament. Mr Anderson’s decision not to watch the games meant he missed a thrilling month in 2021 which saw the team come close to bringing home the trophy before losing to Italy on penalties.

Lee Anderson was widely mocked in 2021 when he boycotted the England team

Lee Anderson was widely mocked in 2021 when he boycotted the England team

Nigel Farage delivers a speech

Nigel Farage said he didn’t doubt Lee Anderson’s patriotism
Victoria Jones/REX/Shutterstock)

Mr Farage dismissed taking the knee as the symbol of a “very, very dangerous Marxist agenda”, stating: “I was there for the final against Italy, and I wasn’t pleased to see the England team take the knee. And I think as much as possible, England, at any sporting level, should avoid political gestures.”

Returning to Mr Anderson he said: “Do I doubt Lee Anderson’s patriotism? Not for one moment.”

Mr Farage also tried to distance himself from the Tories after Suella Braverman said he “should be welcomed” by the party. She raised eyebrows when she claimed that Reform UK and the Tories aren’t that different.

But in response Mr Farage said: I had a cup of tea ready for the 5.30am news on the BBC this morning. I spat quite a lot of it down my dressing gown.” He went on: How can she say that? I don’t know.” He described the Tories as very much a centre party” and declared: “All marriage plans are off”.

And in a savage dig at Rishi Sunak he said: “Frankly if this wasn’t an election, he would have resigned already.” He continued: “He’s got no connection to the country whatsoever. This is your classic Winchester Oxford Goldman-Sachs idea doesn’t even meet ordinary people.

“I doubt it. He doesn’t understand what the center of gravity of people’s hearts are in this country. So he would have been gone for the election.”

Ms Braverman made the intervention after a disastrous few days for the party following Rishi Sunak’s decision to abandon veterans and world leaders on D-Day to record a TV interview. Cabinet Minister Mel Stride was forced to declare yesterday that Mr Sunak would still be leader on election day as the scandal continued to swirl.

Ms Braverman, a Sunak critic who is seen as a possible leadership contender, waded into the row in an interview with the Times, where she said the Tories are a “broad church”, and should not exclude anyone who wants “Conservatives to get elected”. It comes after a shock poll suggested the Reform UK was the most popular option to succeed Mr Sunak as Tory leader if Labour wins the General Election.