Starmer at odds with Welsh Government as he confirms Labour World Cup snub
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has revealed that he will not attend the World Cup in Qatar next month, and says neither will any of his senior colleagues.
A Welsh Government spokesperson had confirmed on Saturday that First Minister Mark Drakeford will be attending the tournament, alongside a Welsh Government delegation that includes Economy Minister Vaughan Gething and Dawn Bowden, the deputy minister for Arts and Sports and the Chief Whip.
Last week, it was reported that Lucy Powell, the UK party’s shadow culture and sport secretary, received an invitation to attend from the Qatari government but turned it down.
This follows concerns over the treatment of construction workers and the criminalisation of same-sex relationships in the country.
Asked if he would go to the final if England reached it, Mr Starmer told LBC: “No, I wouldn’t. I’d love to, but I think that the human rights record is such that I wouldn’t go, and that would be the position of the Labour Party.”
Pressed on whether he would attend any of the games, he said: “No.”
He said the case would be the same for his senior colleagues.
Last month Mr Gething told the Senedd that a delegation from the Welsh Government would travel to Qatar “to promote Wales and engage in diplomacy”.
They are expected to watch each of Wales’ group games against the USA, Iran and England, as well as others depending on the progress of the team in the tournament.
During his statement, Mr Gething acknowledged there were “significant challenges” with the World Cup being hosted in Qatar, citing its human rights and workers’ rights records, and some LGBTQ+ fans not travelling there.
He said: “We will use our platform as an opportunity to express our values and to demonstrate that Wales is a nation of values on the world stage.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We are proud that Wales will be competing at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“We believe that it is better to engage with countries that do not always share our values on human rights, LGBTQ+ rights, workers’ rights and political and religious freedom.
“Engaging with countries provides an opportunity to develop a platform for further discussion, to raise awareness and to potentially influence a change in approach.”
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