Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Aubrey Allegretti Political correspondent

No 10 denies snub to Lionesses after Boris Johnson watches Euros final from Chequers

Johnson and children watch the match
Boris Johnson watches the Women’s Euro 2022 final on television with two of his children on 31 July 2022. Photograph: @BorisJohnson

Boris Johnson’s spokesperson has denied he snubbed the Lionesses by not watching their Euros victory from Wembley, despite the German chancellor doing so.

While no extra bank holiday is expected to be created to mark the achievement of the England women’s football team, Downing Street did hint the squad could be lined up for honours in recognition of their success.

A picture posted by the prime minister showed him watching Sunday’s match from Chequers, his grace-and-favour country retreat, sitting on the floor with his two youngest children around a TV.

Johnson went to cheer on the England men’s team when they were narrowly defeated in a penalty shoot-out by Italy last summer, but he was notably absent from the stadium when the women’s team lifted the trophy with a record number of spectators at the culmination of their campaign, after beating Germany in extra time.

Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, travelled to London to support his team and held no meetings with UK government ministers before heading back home.

Asked why Johnson did not do the same, despite sporting an England top as he watched from the crowd when Gareth Southgate’s side took second place in the delayed Euro 2020 tournament, his spokesperson said: “The prime minister did watch the game at home along with, I think, 17.4 million other people.”

The foreign secretary and Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss and the culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, both attended the match.

The Lionesses were not invited to No 10 on Monday, given Johnson is away attending the funeral of the former Northern Ireland first minister David Trimble. As the prime minister is also going on holiday from Wednesday until Sunday, it is unlikely the women’s team will be hosted in Downing Street later this week, either.

Asked if Johnson could not be bothered to support the Lionesses from Wembley, his spokesperson said the public “would judge the government on the support it has given to women’s football”.

“This is a government that has stood steadfast in terms of supporting the women’s game and investing in it,” they added. “The prime minister has been supporting the team throughout and is watching the game with his family at home.”

Some believe Johnson may have shied away from public appearances after he was heckled while attending the Queen’s platinum jubilee thanksgiving service in June, and feared similar treatment to George Osborne, who was roundly booed at the Olympic Stadium in 2012.

Questioned on whether Johnson was snubbed by the Lionesses, his spokesperson said no.

They left the door open to the women’s squad being lined up for damehoods, saying Johnson wanted to “see the team receive the recognition they rightly deserve for their historic victory”. However, they said that it was “a matter for the independent honours committee”.

Downing Street said there were “no plans” for an extra bank holiday to be created to mark the achievement.

But grassroots facilities will be re-named after the 23 players who led England to victory, either in their home towns or places that shaped their footballing careers.

Schools will also be encouraged to offer football to girls “as standard”, which No 10 said “isn’t the case everywhere”, adding that “significant sums” had already been invested into women’s sport and sport in general.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.