In Brief

Bank holidays and boycotts: are MPs trying to jinx England?

Declaring a bank holiday would be ‘tempting fate’, says Boris Johnson

As England head into a historic Euro final against Italy on Sunday, Three Lions supporters across the nation will be reaching for their lucky pants, socks and football scarves in an attempt to ensure the right result.

But as the country gets swept up in the euphoria of the England men’s team reaching a first major final since winning the World Cup in 1966, there’s every danger that we could be getting ahead of ourselves with calls for a bank holiday and even knighthoods for Gareth Southgate’s squad should they lift the Henri Delaunay trophy this weekend.

Bank holiday could jinx it, says Johnson

Boris Johnson admitted to LBC that declaring a national bank holiday on Monday should England emerge as the Euro 2020 champions would be “tempting fate”.

That’s despite more than 335,000 people signing a petition calling for an extra day off. The petition argues that one more day of leisure would be “beneficial and sensible” for the nation if England were to win on Sunday.

“Clearly we want England to go all the way and win the final, and then we will set out our plans in due course,” a government spokesperson said.  Transport secretary Grant Shapps also seemed keen to avoid taking anything for granted, telling Sky News he wouldn’t want to “jinx” the match by prematurely declaring a national day off.  “I wouldn’t want to jinx it is what I would say. Not in my lifetime… have we been in this position and I don’t want to say anything that is going to make any presumptions at all. Good luck to England on Sunday, we’ll be right behind you.” 

The match could go on as late as 11pm if it were to go to extra-time and penalties, meaning any potential celebrations could go on well into Monday morning.

Indeed, “around eight million workers”, roughly one in four of the total workforce, have taken the day off work on Monday – “while millions more could call in sick”, says Metro.

Arise, Sir Gareth

Johnson was also giving nothing away on whether knighthoods could be bestowed upon the England players, as well as their game-changing manager Gareth Southgate.

“I obviously wouldn’t want to anticipate anything that the honours people may decide,” Johnson told broadcasters. 

“But clearly I think Gareth Southgate has done an absolutely outstanding job. The only other England managers to have received the honour were 1966 World Cup mastermind Alf Ramsey and Bobby Robson”, who took the team to the 1990 World Cup semi-final, although the honour was awarded for his contribution to the game in general in 2002, reports The Telegraph

For team captain Harry Kane and star player Raheem Sterling, it would be an upgrade for their existing MBE honour, while Southgate was made an OBE in 2019 after becoming the first manager since Robson to lead England to a World Cup semi-final.

Blame Conservative MP, says Labour

Labour, meanwhile, is begging “sulky” Tory MP Lee Anderson to avoid watching the final, claiming he is a long-standing “jinx”, reports The Mirror.

Anderson initially said he would not be watching England during Euro 2020 as he objected to players “taking the knee” in support of anti-racism groups. 

And he seemed to have stuck by his decision before the semi-final against Denmark on Wednesday after complaining the team are “supporting a political movement whose core principles aim to undermine our very way of life”.

The tongue-in-cheek Labour petition argues that Anderson, who was born in 1967 (the year after England won the World Cup), has “jinxed” the England team by watching matches since his birth. 

“As Anderson was born in 1967 we think maybe he’s been the jinx all along,” reads the petition. “Reaching our first final since before he was born is such a great feeling. But it’s not enough,” it continues. “We want to finish the job on Sunday. So we're saying: Anderson, stay away, do the housework, watch Midsomer Murders, anything.”

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