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London politics watch LIVE: Starmer says Sunak has 'lost his marbles' after Greek PM meeting snub

Labour leader Keir Starmer said Rishi Sunak had "lost his marbles" at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday as the row with Greece intensifies and the Tory party appears split on immigration policies.

The PM is embroiled in a deepening war of words with Athens after cancelling a meeting with Greek leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Downing Street said the talks were agreed on the basis that the Greek PM would not publicly lobby for the return of the ancient sculptures that are on display as part of the British Museum’s collection. But Greece has denied the claim.

Labour accused Mr Sunak of “stamping his feet” and “petulant walking away”.

Mr Starmer, after an exchange about migration, said: “Never mind the British Museum, it’s the Prime Minister who has obviously lost his marbles.

“The Greek prime minister came to London to meet him, a fellow Nato member, an economic ally, one of our most important partners in tackling illegal immigration.

“But instead of using that meeting to discuss those serious issues, he tried to humiliate him and cancelled at the last minute. Why such small politics, Prime Minister?”

Follow latest updates below...

In London politics news...

14:14 , Rachael Burford

Ministers have intervened to stop Sadiq Khan torpedoing the huge MSG Sphere in east London.

Levelling-up Secretary Michael Gove stepped in as he considers whether to call in the application for the controversial development on the edge of the Olympic park.

The Mayor of London moved to block the scheme last week, stating concerns about the amount of light pollution that it would cause for Stratford residents, lack of “green” credentials, and the impact it would have on the area.

Read the full story here.

The MSG Sphere was rejected by Sadiq Khan
The MSG Sphere was rejected by Sadiq Khan

Sir Elton John set to address MPs

13:33 , Rachael Burford

MPs were wearing red ribbons in the Commons to mark World Aids Day.

Sir Elton John will address MPs later and urge them to do more to eliminate HIV in England by 2030.

The pop legend and campaigner wants ministers to expand opt-out testing after figures showed that a trial scheme had picked up more than 580 previously diagnosed HIV cases.

Read more by our health reporter Dan Keane here.

Sir Elton John (PA Archive)
Sir Elton John (PA Archive)

Westminster council should 'rethink' parking charges

12:58 , Rachael Burford

MP for Cities of London and Westminster Nickie Aiken raised her concerns about Westminster council significantly "increasing parking charges for electric small vehicles".

The town hall plans to overhaul its current parking charges in a bid to “encourage the use of low-polluting vehicles”.

But they could see the cost of parking an electric vehicle for a four-hour period increase the 1,800 per cent in some areas.

The PM accuses the council of "penalising hard-working people".

He urges the council to rethink "the damaging proposals".

PM challenged on '40 new hospitals promise'

12:45 , Rachael Burford

Ed Davey challenges the government on its 40 new hospitals promise.

Many schemes have been "badly delayed", the Lib Dem leader says and staff have "suffered for years" in "unfit and unsafe" conditions.

Mr Sunak says progress is being made and the government is committed to delivering 40 new hospitals by 2030 backed by more than £20billion of investment.

Scottish 'failed' by energy policy

12:42 , Rachael Burford

Scotland produces six times more gas than it consumes, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn says.

This is the "consequence of failed energy policy here in Westminster" and Scotland's energy wealth should benefit the people of Scotland, he adds.

The PM says that UK's energy grid is integrated to bring benefits to people across the country.

Labour would scrap 'absurd' low wages for foreign workers

12:37 , Rachael Burford

Labour would scrap the "absurd" policy that those from overseas receive lower wages for the same jobs, Sir Keir says.

"Under this Government, a bricklayer from overseas can be paid £2,500 less than somebody who is already here. A plasterer, £3,000 less. An engineer, £6,000 less. The list goes on, it's absurd.

"Labour would scrap his perverse wage cutting policy, why won't he?"

In response, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: "We have taken significant measures and will bring forward more."

Families 'filled with dread' as cold weather sets in

12:35 , Rachael Burford

The SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn says many Scottish families have been “filled with dread” as temperatures drop because they “simply cannot afford to pay energy bills”.

Snow and frost were seen across Scotland and northern England this week.

Mr Flynn asks if the the PM “regrets" offering no financial support for families this winter.

Rishi Sunak replies that pensioners will see an extra £300 on top of their usual winter fuel payments.

Britain 'not listening' to Labour, says PM

12:29 , Rachael Burford

Rishi Sunak's Commons microphone was cut off as he says "Britain isn't listening" to Sir Keir Starmer.

Small boat crossings

12:27 , Rachael Burford

Sir Keir - who did meet the Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis this week - says they discussed immigration, the economy and security.

"It is not that difficult prime minister," he says, as he accuses Mr Sunak of having "no plan" on boat crossings when migration is at a "record high".

Mr Sunak replies that illegal boat crossings are down by a third this year. He accuses Labour of choosing "Brussels over Britain every single time".

The PM says the Labour leader showed his "true colours" by picking Ode to Joy, which is "Literally the anthem of the European Union", when asked what song best sums up his party this week.

PM accused of 'small politics'

12:20 , Rachael Burford

Sir Keir accuses the PM of "small politics" after a meeting with the Greek prime minister was cancelled this week over the Elgin Marbles row.

The Labour leader says Greece is a Nato member, an economic ally, as well as an ally in tackling migration.

Mr Sunak "tried to humiliate him and cancelled at the last minute", he says, adding: "Why such small politics?"

PM 'lost his marbles' over immigration

12:16 , Rachael Burford

Rishi Sunak's says that net migration "is likely to drop" as a result of Government policies after figures last week showed it was at a record high. The PM accuses the Labour leader of planning "a secret backroom deal with the EU that would see an additional 100,000 migrants here every year".

Sir Keir challenges the PM.

"Mr. Speaker, never mind the British Museum it's the Prime Minister who has obviously lost his marbles," the Labour leader says to cheers from his benches.

Sir Keir Starmer kicks off with Elgin Marbles joke

12:08 , Rachael Burford

The Labour leader starts PMQs with a joke about the Elgin Marbles row, which has dominated headlines in recent days.

"In an effort to hide from his failures, the Prime Minister spent this week arguing about an ancient relic only a minority of the British public have any interest in...but that's enough about the Tory party," Sir Keir says.

Rishi Sunak leaves No10 for PMQs

11:50 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

The Prime Minister has been photographed leaving a festive-looking Downing Street, as he heads to Parliament for PMQs.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

What is the Elgin Marbles row?

11:35 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

A diplomatic row over the Elgin Marbles was triggered on Tuesday when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak cancelled a meeting with Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

No 10 claimed Mr Mitsotakis had reneged on assurances not to campaign publicly for the return of the Parthenon artefacts, which are on display as part of the British Museum’s collection. But Greece has denied the claim.

Labour accused Mr Sunak of “stamping his feet” and “petulant walking away”.

Visitors viewing the Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, at the British Museum in London in January (AFP via Getty Images)
Visitors viewing the Parthenon Marbles, also known as the Elgin Marbles, at the British Museum in London in January (AFP via Getty Images)

Greece’s foreign minister Giorgos Gerapetritis has since pushed for Athens to take back the statues, as he attended a summit with Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron.

Mr Gerapetritis said Greece’s call for the marble effigies to be returned from the British Museum was based on “history” and “justice”.

The sculptures once adorned the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens.

They were removed by British diplomat Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, while Athens was still under the rule of the Ottoman Empire and have been in the British Museum since 1816.

Athens wants them back, with Mr Mitsotakis claiming their removal was like cutting the Mona Lisa in half.

Sunak to appear at PMQs as rows over Elgin Marbles and immigration intensify

11:30 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Good morning, and welcome to The Standard's live blog.

Rishi Sunak is at midday due to go head-to-head with Labour leader Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions, as the row with Greece over the Elgin Marbles intensifies and the Tory party appears split on immigration policies.

Follow along for live updates.