UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended Priti Patel following Tyrone Mings' criticism of the Home Secretary's comments regarding the racial abuse suffered by England's Euro 2020 squad.
Mings was quick to call out Patel's calls for tolerance on Monday after the latter's failure to condemn supporters for booing Gareth Southgate's side throughout the tournament when taking the knee in protest against racism.
However, Johnson has hit back at the Aston Villa centre-back's comments aimed at one of his key cabinet allies.
Who is Priti Patel & what has she said?
Priti Patel is the current Home Secretary, having held the position since 2019 after succeeding Sajid Javid in the role.
A former Secretary of State for International Development under previous Prime Minister Theresa May, she came to prominence among football fans after describing England's decision to take the knee as "gesture politics", refusing to condemn those who booed the move in the process.
After England trio Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were subjected to racist abuse on social media following their missed penalties in the shootout defeat by Italy, Patel took to Twitter to express dismay with the racially-charged fallout from Wembley, writing: "I am disgusted that England players who have given so much for our country this summer have been subject to vile racist abuse on social media.
"It has no place in our country and I back the police to hold those responsible accountable."
What did Mings say?
Having initially issued a statement at the time of Patel's original comments last month, Mings questioned the authenticity of Patel's comments as contradictory to her previous actions.
"You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘gesture politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens," he wrote on Twitter.
What was Boris Johnson's reaction in Parliament?
Examined at Prime Minister's Questions by Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer, Johnson stressed that the Three Lions had his support, but defended Patel.
"I want to reiterate my [...] total support of our fantastic England team, and I support them in the way that they show solidarity with their friends when they face racism," said Johnson.
"But when he talks about the Home Secretary, let me just remind him that my right honourable friend has faced racism and prejudice all her career, of the kind he can never imagine."
England stars subjected to racist abuse
The scenes across social media are far from the first time that Three Lions players have been targeted after performances for both club and country, with Rashford and Manchester City's Raheem Sterling both frequently on the receiving end of racial abuse.
Earlier this year, clubs took part in a three-day boycott of social media to help raise awareness, the latest effort intended to combat the slew of hate spewed on and off social media towards players.
This week, a mural featuring Rashford was defaced following his penalty miss, alongside those of Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, that contributed to England's shootout heartbreak in the Euro 2020 final against Italy, though it has been subsequently repaired amid a growing outpouring of support for the players.