Barry taking a knee
Barry taking a knee

Yesterday I joined thousands of young people marching against racial injustice and in protest at the murder of George Floyd. I took a knee as a mark of respect and paused with those remarkable young people to reflect on the racism faced by so many people of colour not just in the USA but here in Britain too.

 The number of people protesting made it impossible to observe the social distancing rules which I have strictly observed since March. I know how much people have suffered to keep each other safe and I apologise to them for the hurt my failure to observe the rules has caused. On Tuesday evening I received a negative test result. I am therefore confident that I did not infect anyone with whom I came into contact.

 I know I had an obligation to set an example. The rules are important in overcoming this epidemic and I do not want my action to undermine people’s willingness to maintain social distancing. My obligation as an MP is also to call out racial injustice and to stand in solidarity with the very people who, because of that injustice, are so much more likely to die from coronavirus.

 The anger generated by my breach of the social distancing rules must not be allowed to detract from the vital message that Black Lives Matter and that we all have an obligation to fight racism. The killing of George Floyd must be a catalyst for action.

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