Elgin Marbles spat erupts as Rishi Sunak accuses Greek PM of BREAKING deal not to mention ‘long settled’ issue

THE Elgin Marbles row exploded today as No10 insisted the Greek PM broke “assurances” he wouldn’t “use the visit as a public platform” to raise the “long settled matter” of the ancient sculptures.

Sunak’s spokesman said that when the deal was “not adhered to, the PM felt it would not be productive to hold a meeting”.

Tory MPs have accused Rishi Sunak of using the Elgin Marbles to distract from a lack of progress tackling migration issues


Tory MPs have accused Rishi Sunak of using the Elgin Marbles to distract from a lack of progress tackling migration issuesCredit: Reuters

It came as Tory MPs today declared the Elgin Marbles MUST stay in Britain – but accused the PM of sparking a diplomatic row to distract from record migration rates.

Senior Conservatives said the location of the ancient sculptures cannot be up for debate – but added the latest row looks like a “dead cat” to distract from small boat crossings and a Rwanda scheme stuck in limbo.

Mr Sunak sparked a war of words with Greece last night after he cancelled a meeting with PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Mr Mitsotakis had been due to ask the PM for the Elgin Marbles to return.

This morning Transport Secretary Mark Harper insisted the last minute cancellation wasn’t a snub.

He said: “He was offered a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, which proved not to be possible for him to take up.

“Discussions continue between our governments about important matters.”

Mr Harper added: “I’m sure there’ll be future opportunities for the Prime Minister and him to meet in the future to talk about important issues.

“We continue to have those discussions with all of our partners, as you said, to focus on important issues like reducing illegal migration.”

Outraged Tory MPs accused the PM of picking the wrong battle at a time when net migration has soared to 740,000 and the Rwanda scheme is caught in legal jeopardy.

A former minister said: “This is a non-issue.

“It’s dead cat to remove immigration from the main news agenda.”

Another Tory MP added: “I don’t agree with Greek PM. But he raised the issue in a reasonable diplomatic way.

“We just need to say we disagree then crack on with major issues.

“This is just like appointing Esther as Common Sense minister.

“Rishi is treating right of the party as knuckle draggers – throw us red meat occasionally on random issues but be weak on things that matter like migration.”

Meanwhile British Museum Chief George Osborne is under pressure from No10 not to agree to a “loans deal” with Greece.

Government officials are eyeing up legal routes to blocking any export of the ancient sculptures.

Any such deal would see the Marbles moved to the country for temporary display.

Sir Keir Starmer, who met with Mr Mitsotakis yesterday, said Labour would be open to a loan.

Shadow ministers slammed the PM as “weak” for refusing to even meet about it.

“To pick a fight with a Nato ally for the sake of a headline shows just how weak Rishi Sunak is,” a Labour spokesman said.


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