Bank holiday hopes fade as Starmer says ‘we must mark occasion’ if England win

The country should “certainly mark the occasion” if England win Euro 2024, Sir Keir Starmer said, but it appears unlikely there will be an extra bank holiday in the event of victory.

The Prime Minister refused to commit to an extra day off, saying he did not want to “jinx anything” by pre-empting the result of Sunday’s final between Gareth Southgate’s team and Spain.

But he did suggest there would be some form of celebration if England wins its first major men’s football tournament since 1966.

Sir Keir, who had previously said it “looks like” football is coming home, said he would not quit as Prime Minister if the team failed at the final hurdle and deliver on his prediction.

The Liberal Democrats have led calls for an extra bank holiday after England claimed a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Sir Keir previously supported calls for a bank holiday when England’s women’s football team made it to the World Cup final last year.

Asked whether he would back a bank holiday if Southgate’s team is victorious, the Prime Minister told broadcasters in Washington DC: “We should certainly mark the occasion, I don’t want to jinx it. I went to the last Euros final, I don’t want to go through that again.

“I don’t want to jinx anything but we must mark it in some way. But the most important thing is getting it over the line on Sunday.”

Sir Keir, an Arsenal supporter who regularly plays five-a-side football, said England’s win on Wednesday night was “fantastic”.

He watched Harry Kane score England’s equaliser in the semi-final, in a room with his Dutch counterpart Dick Schoof.

“I managed to pop out from one of my sessions for just five minutes which is when I saw Harry Kane get the first goal,” he told broadcasters.

“I missed the second one but it was brilliant.

“So on we go now, great chance. I’ve always said this team were going to go all the way so I’m really, really pleased and just good luck for Sunday.”

Sir Keir said it looked like football was coming home when asked about the result during an Oval Office meeting with President Joe Biden.

The Prime Minister will attend the final in Berlin on Sunday, No 10 has said.

In an interview with GB News, Sir Keir was asked if he might resign in the event the England team loses, and football does not after all “come home”.

“No,” he said, adding: “This is a brilliant team, notwithstanding some of the early games, I’ve always believed in this team, I think they’re very good.

“I have been to these finals before, I went to the last one, I’m hoping that with this team, we can bring it home. But I think a whole country will be willing them on when it gets to Sunday.”

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey had earlier led calls for a one-off bank holiday.

He said: “The Three Lions are playing their first ever final on foreign soil, and if they bring it home, the Government should bring home a bank holiday to celebrate.

“England deserves the chance to celebrate a once-in-a-generation event.

“Who knows, we might even get decent weather.”

It is not the first time the Lib Dems have called for a temporary bank holiday in the event of a sporting win, having made similar calls last year when England Women reached the World Cup final.

Two extra one-off bank holidays were held across the UK in 2022, one for the Queen’s platinum jubilee and another for her funeral.

The King’s coronation in May 2023 was also a bank holiday.