View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. UK Politics
28 November 2023

Rishi Sunak’s political strategy gets weirder

Why has the Prime Minister cancelled a meeting with his Greek counterpart over the Parthenon marbles?

By Freddie Hayward

He cavorted on stage with Elon Musk. But he will not meet the Greek prime minister. Rishi Sunak is so peeved by Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s uppity comments about the Parthenon marbles at the British Museum that he cancelled today’s lunchtime meeting. It’s as if, Mitsotakis said, half the Mona Lisa was in London and the other half in the Louvre.

Fixing Britain’s broken relations with the Europeans was supposed to be Sunak’s forte. Mitsotakis even went to Stanford and spent time at McKinsey. The diplomacy was ripe. Instead, talks on migration, security and cooperation have not happened and the snubbed Greek PM has gone home. Back in 2012, Stephen Fry reportedly said we should return the “marbles as a gesture of solidarity with Greece in its financial distress”. Perhaps the Autumn Statement made Sunak think the roles were reversed.

In any case, Labour is darting around the row. Some media reports suggested Starmer was amenable to the marbles’ return. Now though, Labour sources say the party will make no changes to the laws governing such collections, leaving the matter to the British Museum. The Tories’ plan to ensnare Labour in a battle over preserving Britain’s marbles might not pay off after all.

Unsurprisingly, I do not think the Elgin marbles will supersede the cost-of-living crisis, immigration or the NHS as the issue that will decide the next election. If this is a political strategy, it is a curious one. It’s hard to work out what this government does want to talk about. Just when we thought the battle lines were setting around tax and spend, Sunak surprises.

This piece first appeared in the Morning Call newsletter; receive it every morning by subscribing on Substack here.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

[See also: Why the British Museum should return the Elgin Marbles]

Content from our partners
Future proofing the NHS
Where do we get the money to fix the world's biggest problems? – with ONE
Labour's health reforms can put patients first

Topics in this article : , ,
Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU