'What On Earth Is Going On?': Kay Burley Skewers Tory Minister Over Elgin Marbles Row

Steve Barclay tried to play down the row on Sky News this morning.
Steve Barclay tried to play down the row on Sky News this morning.

Steve Barclay tried to play down the row on Sky News this morning.

Kay Burley left a Tory minister squirming over Rishi Sunak’s decision to snub the Greek prime minister in a row over the Elgin Marbles.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due to meet the prime minister yesterday, but the face-to-face was cancelled at the last minute.

Sunak was angry at comments his opposite number had made about the marbles - also knows as the Parthenon Sculptures - which are in the British Museum but which the Greeks want back.

A furious diplomatic row has erupted, with the Greek government accusing the PM of showing them “no respect”.

On Sky News this morning, Burley asked environment secretary Steve Barclay: “The Parthenon Sculpture, the Elgin Marbles - what on earth is going on there? Not very diplomatic was it of our prime minister?”

But Barclay said: “I think the British Museum’s a jewel in the crown. It’s something that people from across the world come and enjoy and we’re very proud of.

“I don’t think anyone wants to re-litigate something that’s been settled for a huge amount of time.

“We have very good relations with the Greek government, but in terms of the Elgin Marbles, they’re part of the British Museum, that’s something that’s been a constant for many decades and I don’t think anyone sees any need for that to change.”

The minister also rejected Burley’s claim that the Greek PM had been “snubbed by our prime minister”.

He said: “Having meetings on something that’s settled I don’t think is particularly productive.”

But Burley hit back: “Why cancel the meeting? There were lots of other things to talk about, not least immigration.”

Barclay said: “People expect the prime minister to stand by the decision that’s been in place for a long time in terms of the importance of the Elgin Marbles. They are a key part of the British Museum.”