LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the death of George Floyd “appalling” and “inexcusable” but urged protesters in the U.S. and elsewhere to stay within the law and behave in a “reasonable way.”
Giving his first public comments on the unrest in the U.S. at the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Johnson said he understood protesters’ anger, but declined to be drawn on whether he had raised his concerns with Donald Trump.
Labour leader Keir Starmer urged Johnson to convey “the U.K.’s abhorrence” at Trump’s response, while the Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said Trump’s “actions and rhetoric” had been “distressing” and claimed the U.S. was on “a dangerous slide into autocracy.”
Commenting on the death of Floyd in Minneapolis, Johnson said: “What happened in the U.S. was appalling, it was inexcusable, we all saw it on our screens, and I perfectly understand people’s right to protest what took place, though obviously I also believe that protest should take place in a lawful and reasonable way.”
Asked by Blackford to state plainly that “black lives matter,” Johnson said: “Of course black lives matter, and I totally understand the anger, the grief that is felt not just in America but around the world and in our country as well. I totally understand that and I get that.”
He added that any protests taking place in the U.K. should be carried out in accordance with social distancing rules.