'I've got real work to do': Foreign Sec makes cutting jibe at Keir Starmer over World Cup boycott and says he'll attend

26 October 2022, 08:42

James Cleverly's vicious jibe at Mr Starmer: 'I've got real work to do'

By Daisy Stephens

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has made a jibe at Sir Keir Starmer over his plans to boycott the World Cup in Qatar, telling LBC's Nick Ferrari he will attend because he has "real work to do".

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The Labour leader told Nick on Monday he would not go to the soccer showpiece because of Qatar's human rights record.

When Nick asked Mr Cleverly on Wednesday whether he would be making a similar gesture, the Foreign Secretary said he needed to try and go as it was such an important event.

"It is an important international event," he said.

"I've had to rearrange my diary somewhat because of the reshuffle but I think if I am able to go I should go, as I say because it is a major international event.

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"There will be lots of my international interlocutors there and also there will be a whole load of Brits overseas and one of the first duties as the Foreign Office is protecting British nationals while they travel abroad."

When Nick asked if it would send a stronger message to boycott the games like Sir Keir is, Mr Cleverly hit out at the Labour leader, saying: "As leader of the opposition he's in a lovely position to send messages, I've got real work to do."

Keir Starmer and his party wouldn't go to Qatar because of its 'human rights record'

It has been reported that 6,500 migrant construction workers have died whilst building of the 2022 World Cup stadium in Qatar, drawing attention to the country's problem with labour and workers rights.

In the Arabian country it is illegal to promote or engage in homosexuality and therefore has been scrutinised for its treatment of the LGBTQI+ community as well as women and migrant workers.

Only yesterday, Qatari officials arrested British campaigner Peter Tatchell as he staged a one-man protest about the country's treatment of LGBTQI+ people.

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When Nick asked the Labour leader on Call Keir on Monday whether he would attend the World Cup final if England got through, he said: "No, I wouldn't."

He added: I'd love to but I think that the human rights record is such that I wouldn't go and that'll be the position of the Labour party."

Nick Ferrari pressed: "You won't go to any games whatsoever, and none of your senior colleagues?"

Sir Keir said: "No."

Construction of the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar for the World Cup
Construction of the Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar for the World Cup. Picture: Alamy

On Wednesday Nick also asked Mr Cleverly about the detainment of Mr Tatchell.

"I haven't spoken to the government of Qatar in direct response to Peter Tatchell but my understanding is that he was questioned, that he was supported by the FDCO's consular team," he said.

"I have spoken to the Qatari authorities in the past about gay football fans going to watch the world cup and how they will treat our fans and the international fans.

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"And they want to make sure that football fans are safe, secure and enjoy themselves, and they know that that means they are going to have to make some compromises in terms of what is an Islamic country with a very different set of cultural norms to our own."

However he also urged football fans travelling to the country to 'respect' it.

"One of the things I would say to the football fans is - please do be respectful of the host nation," he said.

"They are trying to ensure that people can be themselves and enjoy the football, and I think with a little bit of flex and compromise at both ends it can be a safe, secure and exciting World Cup."