By Harry Phibbs
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The Europe Minister David Lidington indicated to the House of Commons yesterday that it is highly unlikely that Ministers will attend any European Football Championship games. He was challenged the inconsistency of boycotting the opening games – in protest at the imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko – yet not ruling out attending later stages.
Mr Lidington explained it as follows:
We have consistently said to the Ukrainian Government that the selective use of justice in Ukraine is unacceptable and we want their policy to change. There is still time for improvement to take place, but unless that happens I do not want to hold out much hope that our policy will shift.
Regarding the Neo Nazi element among Ukrainian football fans the Conservative MP for Harrow East asked the following:
Does my right hon. Friend welcome the fact that the England team went to Auschwitz-Birkenau ahead of the tournament to bring home to people, in eastern Europe in particular, the horrors of the Nazi atrocities? What a welcome respite that is from some of the terrible things we have heard about in Ukraine.
Mr Lidington replied:
I entirely endorse what my hon. Friend says. It is particularly important that sporting champions—who can, perhaps, cut through to parts of society that will not listen to speeches by politicians—set an example in the way the England players did.