Ex-England cricketer Monty Panesar to stand as MP for George Galloway’s party

Former England cricketer Monty Panesar said he wanted to stand up for the working-class by running for Parliament for George Galloway’s political party.

Mr Panesar appeared alongside the Workers Party of Britain leader in Westminster, arguing for plans including a wealth tax and curbs on foreign ownership of sports teams.

Mr Galloway said he had 500 candidates already lined up to fight a general election and he wanted his party to put pressure on Labour in the same way Nigel Farage was able to target the Conservatives.

Mr Panesar, who will stand in Labour-held Ealing Southall, told the PA news agency: “When I played for England, there was so much support from the fans and the whole nation when they put me where I am today, it’s my turn now to actually help the working-class people, whatever problems they have.

“The gap between the rich and the poor is getting bigger and bigger.”

People on lower wages were struggling with bills “but it’s easy for someone who is earning over £100,000 to £150,000 to do it”.

“So I want their voices to be heard,” he said.

The former cricketer said Mr Galloway’s party was “more aligned” to the working-class than Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour.

“I don’t think Labour is representing working-class people,” he said.

George Galloway General Election announcement
Monty Panesar, back right, said he did not think Labour was representing working-class people (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Panesar also said he did not want to see foreign firms owning football clubs, and wanted fans in charge.

“I don’t want to see foreign ownership of big national companies coming over and buying the football club, I want to see fan ownership,” he said.

“Most of our fans are from the working-class people,” he said, suggesting German teams Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich could be an example to teams in England for having supporters involved in ownership.

Mr Panesar said “ticket prices are so expensive and they are taking the money out of working-class people”.

He added: “I want to see a change in that. I want to see a change in many other things as well, I want to see a wealth tax to be introduced.”

Speaking alongside his candidates in Westminster, Mr Galloway said: “We will have the same impact on Labour that Mr Farage and the Reform party are likely to have on the Conservatives.

“We will win seats, but in potentially hundreds of seats, we will materially affect the results.”

Mr Galloway said he was in talks with three Labour MPs and a peer about defecting.

“Talks were going swimmingly, then not, then back on again,” he told the PA news agency.

“These things take time. I’m hoping to land them, I’m an experienced fisherman, I’m hoping to land them on the riverbank in good time.”

Mr Galloway said his party was “quite confident that in the vast majority of seats in England – except those that we’ve decided not to stand in for political reasons – that we will be on the ballot”.

“And so people will not have to choose between Tweedledee and Tweedledum. They’ll have a genuine choice. And we think that’s our duty to offer that.”

One seat where the party will not stand is Islington North, if former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn runs as an independent.

“We would like him to lead an alliance of socialist political forces, he is the ideal man for that,” Mr Galloway said.