20/04/2012 09:04 BST | Updated 20/06/2012 06:12 BST

Bahrain Grand Prix Should Be Cancelled, Says Ed Miliband

Labour leader Ed Miliband today urged David Cameron to add his voice to calls for the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Miliband said that it would send out the wrong signal for the Formula 1 motor race to go ahead on Sunday at a time of concern over human rights abuses in the Gulf state.

But Downing Street said it was not for the government to dictate what sporting events take place in countries overseas.

Speaking during a visit to south Wales, Miliband said: "I certainly think it is the case that, given the violence we have seen in Bahrain and given the human rights abuses, I don't believe the Grand Prix should go ahead.

"I hope that the Government will make its view clear and say the same."

But David Cameron refused to endorse the calls to cancel the race.

The Prime Minister said it was "a matter for Formula One", adding: "It's important that peaceful protests are allowed to go on."

Speaking during a visit to Preston, Cameron said there was "a process of reform under way in Bahrain" and added: "This government backs that reform and wants to help promote that reform."

Miliband's comments come after shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper urged British drivers not to attend the vent.

Speaking on BBC's Question Time, the shadow home secretary said: "It shouldn't go ahead, I don't think British drivers should go, I think the Formula One should not go ahead in Bahrain.

"You have got demonstrations by democratic protesters who have been violently suppressed and although it should be a matter for the sport to decide rather than for the government, I do think government ministers can express an opinion. That opinion should be it should not go ahead, it would sent the wrong signal, it should not happen."

Downing Street said the government remained "concerned" about the violence in Bahrain, but refused to be drawn on whether the race should go ahead.

"It is not for us to dictate what sporting events happen in other countries," a No 10 spokeswoman said.