The Prime Minister categorically denies massive hissy fit

Mr Sunak said his position on the sculptures is “crystal clear” that they should remain in the UK.His remarks came after former Chancellor George Osborne had suggested the PM may have thrown a “hissy fit” because his Greek counterpart met Sir Keir Starmer before him.

Mr Osborne, who is chairman of the British Museum, speculated the snub could have been triggered because the Prime Minister objected to Kyriakos Mitsotakis holding talks with the Labour leader the day before he was due in Downing Street, rather than by a dispute over the Parthenon sculptures themselves.

He also said he would continue to explore a potential “exchange deal” with Athens, regardless of whether Mr Sunak was willing to engage with the Greek premier.

He said there was a “50:50” chance the Marbles would be loaned back to Greece. Speaking to journalists en-route to the COP28 climate summit in Dubai Mr Sunak denied he had acted petulantly.

Asked if he had had a hissy fit the PM said: “No, no. I think I’ve said everything I’ve got to say on this in parliament the other day and now I’m focused on delivering for people on the things they care about.

“When it comes to them our position is very clear as a matter of law the marbles can’t be returned and we’ve been unequivocal about that.

“And I think the British Museum’s website itself says that in order for the loans to happen the recipient needs to acknowledge the lawful ownership of the country that’s lending the things and I think the Greeks have not suggested that they are in any way shape or form willing to do that.

“Our view and our position on that is crystal clear: the marbles were acquired legally at the time.” The long-running row over the rightful ownership of the sculptures escalated this week when Mr Sunak accused Mr Mitsotakis of acting in bad faith by publicly lobbying for their return during a trip to the UK.

No 10 said the Greek leader’s intervention broke a promise not to “re-litigate” the matter, prompting an angry denial from Athens, which accused Mr Sunak of playing electoral games.

Speaking on Political Currency, the podcast he hosts with Ed Balls, Mr Osborne said he had heard “various theories” about the reasons for the flare up, with some speculating it was a “dead cat strategy” – a plan to distract from the Tory row over migration.
“Then you ask the question, is it just petulance? Is it just having a bit of a hissy fit? And, I think if that’s the reason it’s not because Mitsotakis was going to raise the Elgin Marbles. It’s because he had met Keir Starmer the day before,” he said.

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