What did Gary Neville say? Qatar migrant workers comments during ITV World Cup coverage, Rishi Sunak reaction

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Gary Neville received a lot of backlash when it was confirmed he would go to the Qatar World Cup with ITV

Rishi Sunak has slammed Gary Neville following his comments on the UK government ahead of the weekend’s World Cup final. The former Manchester United defender was a pundit for ITV on Sunday and was quick to criticise Qatar’s working conditions and also the UK government’s treatment of rail workers and nurses.

Speaking ahead of Argentina’s dramatic penalty shootout win over France, Neville said: “It’s abhorrent [Qatar working conditions] and we should detest low pay, detest low pay, poor accommodation and poor working conditions. That is something we can never ever accept in this region or in any region.

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“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 now, we have to pick up on workers’ rights wherever we go because people have to be equally treated.

“We can’t have people being paid a pittance to work, we can’t have people in accommodation which is unsavoury and disgusting, we can’t have that. It shouldn’t happen with the wealth that exists and it shouldn’t happen in our country that our nurses are having to fight for an extra pound or two pounds.”

Neville’s comments came under much criticism and Sunak was one who was eager to respond.

What did Rishi Sunak say in response to Gary Neville?

Rishi Sunak encouraged Neville to stick to football as he hit back at the ITV pundit’s comments in Qatar. Speaking to the Daily Mail, the prime minister defended the governement, saying: “I think when most people are tuning in to watch Gary Neville they want to hear about the football and watch the football. They don’t want to discuss politics.

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“I come from an NHS family, I spent my life working in my Mum’s pharmacy growing up. My track record both as chancellor and PM is prioritising the NHS. During Covid when there was a pay freeze in the rest of the public sector, the one area that got special treatment was the NHS. I did that as Chancellor.”

What else has been said?

Sunak wasn’t the only one to respond to Neville’s comments, with senior Conservative Simon Clarke tweeting: “It is beyond ridiculous that Gary Neville is given free rein by ITV Sport to overtly politicise a major sporting event. Quite apart from the fact every nurse is receiving a pay rise of £1400, to compare workers’ rights in Qatar with the UK is grotesque.”

Meanwhile, Neville ended up in a social media spat with Conservative MP Lee Anderson when he told Neville to “keep your nose out of politics”, before the 47-year-old hit back by describing the Conservatives as “the biggest set of charlatans to ever be in power”.

After Neville’s comments gained a number of complaints via the media regular Ofcom, a spokesman for ITV said: “Gary Neville was expressing his own personal views in the context of a discussion about treatment of workers in Qatar within a live broadcast. His views are his own and were not endorsed by ITV.”

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