SNP chief demands return of ‘stolen’ Elgin Marbles as huge diplomatic row rages

Greek Prime Minister calls for return of Elgin Marbles

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has demanded the return of the Elgin Marbles after a diplomatic spat erupted.

Rishi Sunak cancelled a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis after he used an interview ahead of the talks to publicly call for Parthenon Sculptures to be handed back.

In a post on social media platform X, Mr Flynn said it was an “easy” decision to give the historic works back.

He was responding to a Conservative source who said “reckless for any British politician to suggest that this is subject to negotiation”.

The SNP MP said: “Absolutely agree, this shouldn’t be subject to negotiation. The Elgin marbles were stolen and should be returned. Easy.”

The Greek leader’s meeting with the Prime Minister was due to take place today.

But it was called off after Mr Mitsotakis compared the current situation with the Elgin Marbles to the Mona Lisa painting being cut in half in an interview on Sunday.

He was offered a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden instead but turned that down.

Mr Mitsotakis expressed his disappointment in a social media post, saying: “Anyone who believes in the correctness and justice of their positions is never afraid of opposing arguments.”

Transport Secretary Mark Harper today rejected the assertion that it amounted to a snub to Mr Mitsotakis.

He told BBC Breakfast: “The Deputy Prime Minister offered to meet the Greek prime minister today and it proved not possible to make that happen.

“That’s a matter of regret. That offer was made.

“But the Government set out its position about the Elgin Marbles very clearly, which is they should stay as part of the permanent collection of the British Museum.”

Athens has long demanded the return of the historic works, which were removed from Greece by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century when he was the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.

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