Gary Neville Sparks Tory Anger By Appearing To Compare UK To Qatar On Workers' Rights

The outspoken pundit took aim at the government while covering the World Cup final.
Gary Neville was working at the World Cup final for ITV.
Gary Neville was working at the World Cup final for ITV.
Stefan Rousseau - PA Images via Getty Images

Gary Neville sparked a backlash from senior Tories after criticising the government’s attitude to striking workers during a TV debate about human rights in Qatar.

The pundit accused ministers of “demonising rail workers, ambulance workers and nurses” ahead of the World Cup final in the Middle East state.

Neville - who has previously been criticised for working for a Qatari broadcaster - was asked about the treatment of the migrant workers who built the tournament’s stadiums.

Qatar has admitted that between 400 and 500 died during the construction work, although other estimates put the figure much higher.

Neville, who as spoken openly about his support for Labour, said: “It’s abhorrent and we should detest low pay. We should detest poor accommodation and poor working conditions.

“And that is something that we can never ever accept, in this region or in any region.

“And it is just worth mentioning that we’ve got a current government in our country who are demonising rail workers, ambulance workers and, terrifyingly, nurses.

“So in our country we’ve got to look at workers’ rights, but certainly where football goes we have to make sure we pick up on workers’ rights wherever it goes because people have got to be equal, they’ve got to be treated equal.

“We can’t have people being paid an absolute pittance to work. We can’t have people in accommodation that’s unsavoury and disgusting. We can’t have that.

“That shouldn’t happen here with the wealth that exists, but it shouldn’t happen in our country where our nurses are having to fight for an extra pound or an extra two pound.”

His remarks divided opinion on Twitter - with leading Conservatives among his critics.

Nick Timothy, who was joint-chief of staff to Theresa May when she was prime minister, described Neville as a “paid apologist for Qatar”.

“The hypocrisy is no surprise but the failure of ITV to pre-empt this is unacceptable.”

He was backed by Tory MP and former cabinet minister Simon Clarke.

Andrew Davies, the Conservatives’ leader in the Welsh Assembly also condemned Neville.

However, other Twitter users praised the former Manchester United player.


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