Boris Johnson does not want Rule Britannia banned from Last Night of the Proms, No10 signals

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has put pressure on the BBC not to drop flag-waving anthems “Rule Britannia” and “Land of Hope and Glory” from the Last Night of the Proms.

The cabinet minister said he had raised concerns with the broadcaster about reports that it was considering removing the songs from the high-profile final performance of the annual classical music festival because of sensitivities over their links with colonialism and slavery.

It came as Downing Street signalled that Boris Johnson would not be happy if they were ditched, telling reporters the prime minister believes those involved in sensitive debates over race should focus on the “substance” of the problem, rather than “symbols”.

No 10 insisted that the decision on whether to play the traditional anthem – as well as “Land of Hope and Glory” – was one for the BBC and the organisers of the Proms concert.

But a spokesman made clear that the prime minister does not support symbolic gestures of this kind, reportedly being considered in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests over racial discrimination.

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