The Parthenon marbles will be sent back to Athens and aired on the BBC this Sunday.
When asked to clarify Sunak’s choice, the spokesperson for the PM informed reporters during the morning lobby briefing.
The partnership between the UK and Greece holds great significance, encompassing collaborations in Nato as well as addressing mutual issues such as unlawful migration and cooperative attempts to resolve conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine.
The Greek government assured that their meeting with the prime minister this week would not be used as an opportunity to revisit past disputes over the ownership of the Parthenon sculptures. This would only divert attention from the pressing matters that were previously discussed.
As the promises made were not kept, the prime minister believed it would not be beneficial to have a discussion focused solely on that matter instead of addressing the significant difficulties being faced by the Greek and British populations.
The Greek prime minister was invited to meet with the deputy prime minister to discuss various matters, but we are disappointed that he chose not to attend.
Claire Mitchell KC is questioning Michael Gove, the former Cabinet Office minister and current levelling up secretary, on behalf of Scottish Covid Bereaved.
Mitchell claims that Gove accused the SNP government of using Covid for their own political gain at specific moments. However, she references a document written by Gove’s team in the Cabinet Office that discusses promoting the advantages of the union. This, she argues, demonstrates that it was the UK government who was attempting to make the crisis a political issue.
Gove denies this, stating that he simply wanted to emphasize the truth. He asserts that it is a fact that the furlough scheme was generous, that the devolved administrations received additional funds through the Barnett formula, and that the UK’s vaccine rollout was more successful due to its nationwide approach.
At noon, a message was sent, but it was not specifically mentioned for discussion. This is Peter’s narrative.
The investigation into Covid is currently interviewing Michael Gove, as counseled by Kirsten Heaven, on behalf of the families of Covid victims seeking justice in Cymru.
Heaven inquires about a remark made by Boris Johnson in his statement as a witness. Johnson stated that it was not appropriate from a visual standpoint for the Prime Minister to meet with the first ministers of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland on equal footing.
Gove states that Johnson’s argument was not solely about the optics, but rather he had a deeper objection to making decisions in that manner.
Boris Johnson suggested adopting a stance of complete suppression.
Why did you feel the necessity to contact Johnson in this manner?
Gove stated his intention to communicate his opinions directly to Johnson without any outside influence.
Q: Why were you chosen as the chair of Covid-O, the committee responsible for handling Covid operational matters? Additionally, why were you selected to be a member of the Quad, comprised of the four ministers primarily responsible for this issue: Johnson, Rishi Sunak, Matt Hancock, and Gove?
Gove stated that he was willing to utilize any methods available to convey his opinions. He mentioned that Keith had previously criticized him for not expressing his views more assertively (refer to 12:33pm).
Q: Did you want to have the final say?
Yes, says Gove.
On March 20th, 2020, during a similar discussion, why did you not take the same action as before? Rather, you opted for the collaborative approach on that date.
Gove acknowledges that he may have been more forceful in his statements in March. However, he also believes that he was still assertive at the time. He adds that there are others who would also concur with this viewpoint.
Keith has completed his inquiries and there will now be a brief break. The inquiry will resume at 3pm, during which Gove will be questioned by counsel for core participants.
The threats he has heard have been intimidating. Gove claims it is a guarantee, not a warning.
Throughout the day, there has been a significant amount of this. Gove has stood out as one of the more confrontational witnesses in recent appearances, as his courteous demeanor fails to hide his underlying hostility.
The Parthenon marbles were a topic of discussion during Tuesday’s meeting with Rishi Sunak, which was ultimately canceled.
Tassos Hatzivasileou, a member of New Democracy and a Greek representative, stated that there are multiple subjects to address in our discussions. He clarified that the Parthenon sculptures were just one of the many topics that the Greek delegation intended to bring up during their talks with the British prime minister. He continued:
The agenda was not focused on just one issue, and it will continue to be multi-faceted. However, it is unfortunate that the British are the only ones making this into a political matter.
Hatzivasileou, who provides guidance to the Greek leader regarding global matters and was a member of the visiting group, minimized the involvement of the UK government in current negotiations regarding the antiquities. He stated that Athens’ partner in the discussions is actually the British Museum, where the “exiled” pieces have been housed for the past 200 years, rather than Downing Street. He added:
Sunak’s decision to call off the meeting politicizes the entire process, which only tangentially involves the British government.
During his Sunday interview with the BBC, Prime Minister Mitsotakis did not offer any new insights. Instead, he reiterated well-known Greek perspectives on the reunification of the Parthenon sculptures.
According to him, it was clear that Sunak was being influenced by the results of public opinion polls in preparation for the upcoming UK general elections next year.
In the United Kingdom, the year 2024 marks an election period. Due to the polls indicating the Labour party in the lead by 20 percentage points, the British side may have felt pressured to make a diplomatic mistake. This is unfortunate because our relationship with the British extends beyond this incident. We have a valuable friendship built on a strategic foundation.
Hugo Keith KC, the legal representative for the investigation, inquires about a choice made in the fall of 2020 to exclude hunting and shooting from Covid regulations. He presents WhatsApp conversations mentioning this exemption.
On September 12, 2020, an unnamed official sends a message to Gove stating that they believe Gove strongly supports exempting hunting and shooting, as long as it is not explicitly stated in the regulations. Gove confirms this by replying with a simple “Yes.”
When questioned about the trades, Gove denies accusations that he was attempting to hide the fact that he was granting a special allowance for the two sports (which are favored by some Tory supporters). Gove stated that he simply wanted to ensure that the regulations were enforced consistently.
The BBC will feature a report on Sunday about the Parthenon marbles being returned to Athens.
During the lobby briefing this morning, journalists were informed by the PM’s spokesperson about Sunak’s decision and asked to provide an explanation.
The partnership between the UK and Greece holds great significance, from our collaboration in Nato to addressing issues such as illegal immigration, and working together to find solutions to the conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine.
The Greek government assured that their meeting with the prime minister this week will not be used as a public forum to revisit already resolved issues regarding the ownership of the Parthenon sculptures. This would only divert attention from the important matters I previously mentioned.
As the promised guarantees were not followed, the prime minister believed it would be unproductive to have a meeting focused solely on that matter instead of addressing the significant issues affecting the citizens of Greece and Britain.
The vice prime minister was willing to meet with the prime minister of Greece to discuss various issues, but we are disappointed that the prime minister chose not to attend.