LONDON (REUTERS) – Scottish singer Lewis Capaldi and rapper Dave were the big winners at the Brit Awards on Tuesday (Feb 18), in a ceremony packed with performances.

Crowds cheered at Britain’s annual pop music honours, in the 40th year, as Dave took full advantage of the spotlight and a prime-time television slot to make a political statement against Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“It is racist whether or not it feels racist. The truth is our prime minister is a real racist,” he rapped, in a powerful performance of his song Black on a white piano flashing with images.

Mr Johnson has faced criticism in the past for referring to African people as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”.

This week, a Downing Street aide was forced to resign over racist remarks.

Dave won the coveted album of the year award for his work Psychodrama.

“You can do anything that you put your mind to,” he told fans as he collected the prize in a blue tracksuit.

Capaldi, who scooped two awards, sang his ballad Someone You Loved before receiving the prize for best new artist, swigging on a bottle of beer.

He later clutched a bottle of fortified wine to claim the award for song of the year.

Grime artist Stormzy, named best male artist, was accompanied by a gospel choir, dozens of dancers, a fireworks display and indoor rain, as he performed a medley of hits with guests including Burna Boy.

American teen pop sensation Billie Eilish drew attention with the first performance of the theme song to forthcoming James Bond film No Time To Die.

She was named best international female artist.

Mabel triumphed in the best female artist category, thanking her mother, singer Neneh Cherry, who also won a Brit award 30 years ago.

British television presenter Jack Whitehall hosted the show, paying tribute to Caroline Flack, a former Love Island reality show host who died on Saturday, sparking a debate over how British tabloids sometimes cover celebrities.