Two of Great Britain’s most prominent newspapers, the Sunday Times and the Guardian, printed opinion and editorial articles respectively over the weekend in which they sided with Greece over the repatriation of its priceless Parthenon sculptures.
In a strong show of support for the Greek nation, they asked the British government to intervene and repatriate the sculptures to Greece.
Sarah Baxter, the deputy editor of The Sunday Times newspaper, and the editorial writers from The Guardian on Sunday both asked for this reversal in Britain’s stance, especially now that the country has left the European Union.
Baxter presented a nightmare hypothetical scenario in which Britain is occupied by an enemy force and someone plunders Britain’s iconic Big Ben clock in London.
”An occupying army has laid waste to London and the houses of Parliament lie in ruins. The clock tower and Big Ben still stand, but the façade is crumbling and the great bell no longer chimes,” she wrote.
The opinion piece continues,”The ambassador of another foreign power offers to cart off some of the rubble to his own country, and the insouciant occupier signs a loosely worded bill of assent. The next thing you know, nearly the whole clock and bell are removed abroad, never to return.”
”Years later, England’s national pride is restored. We want Big Ben back. But no! It belongs to another nation now and we are constantly chided by its subjects for being unworthy of its keep,” she wrote scathingly.
The Sunday Times editor went on, praising the new Acropolis Museum in Athens by saying that it is an amazing building, ”much nicer than the windowless space dedicated to the sculptures in the British Museum.”
In a stunning show of support for Greece’s longtime demands, The Guardian newspaper also printed a Sunday editorial in which it requested that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson give the sculptures back to Greece.
The newspaper mentions the recent diplomatic victory of Greece and Italy, which both asked for the introduction of a clause referring to stolen cultural treasures in the EU’s draft negotiation paper with the UK for their future relationship.
The editorial piece even went on to quote Lord Byron’s mournful words over the issue.
”Dull is the eye that will not weep to see / Thy walls defaced, thy mouldering shrines removed / By British hands,” The Guardian quoted the poet, the greatest British philhellene of all, who perished in his quest to help Greece achieve independence.
”Brexiters relentlessly stress the importance of sovereignty, national self-esteem and dignity, and pride in past achievement. What holds for Britain should surely hold for Greece as well,” the British editorial declared.
It then went on to add that ”Restoring the Parthenon marbles to Athens would recognize the legitimacy of a fellow European country’s emotional attachments and sense of itself, after the economic battering it has taken for over a decade.”
”It would also belie the notion that Britain has become so mesmerised by its own lost empire that it is incapable of restoring a past injustice,” the Guardian piece concluded.
It is noted that officials from the British government have already denied such a possibility, with Downing Street spokesman Mark Francois jokingly saying that ”Anybody who thinks this will be a high priority has lost their marbles.”
British tabloids have also referred to the issue in the last several days, with the more populist and conservative-leaning press opposing the prospects of the sculptures’ eventual repatriation to Greece.