Former Manchester United captain Gary Neville was publicly welcomed to the Labour Party by shadow cabinet ministers Lucy Powell and Anneliese Dodds today as the England football star is reportedly considering a venture into politics.
Neville told the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast: “I have joined the Labour Party in the last few days. I want to support Labour. I do believe that we need a progressive Labour Party, but one that actually not just looks after the left side; it has to come towards the centre.”
Sharing the news on social media, Ms Powell, who is shadow secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said she is “very pleased” that Mr Neville has “finally” joined Labour.
Ms Powell also hinted that the player-turned-pundit may have a political career in store.
She was responding to reports that Neville is not “ruling out” a run for Manchester mayor.
“Personally think he’s more than capable of navigating (well, steaming) his way through the world of politics! Look forward to helping,” Ms Powell said.
But according to the Sun, Mr Neville also told the BBC that he thinks he would get “eaten alive” in Westminster.
Asked whether he would consider a full tilt at politics, he reportedly said: “I say to myself sometimes I’m able to communicate, I know what I want, I have got a business mind, I can manage people in respect of businesses.
“But I just think I’d get eaten alive. I don’t know what Whitehall is like, Westminster is like.
“I can only imagine what you have to do there to survive and I don’t play the game, so how can I get in?
“So, when I ask myself the question do you want to dip your toes in, I can’t dip my toes in because I’m all or nothing. I go in and I’m going in.”
The newspaper said that, when pressed on whether that would mean running for public office, he replied: “I don’t know at the moment.”
He added: “No, I’ll just continue to do this, I think. People would say why are you using your influence to try and turn people?
“Actually, at this moment in time, I’d go more quiet if this current regime that’s in left.
“They’re very damaging to the standards that we have in this country and around the world.”
Mr Neville has been a frequent critic of the Conservative Government, often voicing his frustration on Twitter.
On Friday, amid the latest Downing Street party allegations, he said that No 10 should be renamed “Hacienda”, in reference to The Haçienda, a famous Manchester nightclub.
He previously said the people of North Shropshire had “spoken for us all” after the Liberal Democrats took the safe Tory seat in a by-election last year.
“This Government is rancid and it’s impacting them terribly,” he tweeted.
“A devastating result for Johnson and the mob.”
Ms Dodds, who is shadow women and equalities secretary and chairwoman of the Labour Party, also tweeted: “A very warm welcome to Labour (Gary Neville). Great to have you on the red team.”