MP calls for Arsene Wenger to receive knighthood as Jeremy Corbyn heaps praise

Jeremy Corbyn has led tributes in Parliament to Arsene Wenger as an MP backed calls for the former Arsenal manager to be given an honorary knighthood.

There was also light-hearted criticism of well-known Arsenal fan Piers Morgan during the Commons debate celebrating Mr Wenger’s 22 years in charge.

Mr Corbyn said: “I’ve never forgotten taking a very large group of primary school children to Arsenal stadium one evening, and Arsene Wenger giving them a very interesting talk about how he learned English, how they should all learn foreign languages in order to create a more generous and more peaceful world.

“He has a wonderful ability to communicate with people of all ages and all footballing abilities.”

Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal career in numbers

Tory MP Huw Merriman, who led the debate, said: “It should be no surprise that we’ve had a manager that’s come in from abroad, who we’ve embraced as one of our own and has taught us, and I would say he’s the best example of successful immigration in this country.

“I would like to hope that it’s thanks to him that immigration is widely proclaimed as doing fantastic things for this country.”

He hit out at “24/7 barrage of abuse” that Mr Wenger endured in his later years as manager on both social media and in the stadium, saying he was “ashamed” to be a fan alongside those who were jeering the club’s former boss.

Speaking about the club’s fans, Mr Merriman added: “There are 100 million of us across the globe.

“Some have great notoriety. The Trump family. Osama bin Laden. And, it gets even worse for the Arsenal PR team, Piers Morgan.”

But he added: “I am delighted that Piers Morgan is now a convert, because I understand today, I was contacted by Good Morning Britain, he’s calling for an honorary knighthood for Arsene Wenger, and I think that means for the very first time that I find myself in agreement with Piers Morgan.”

“I’m proud that Arsene Wenger and the club that he built was built and washes its own face with the highest matchday revenue in the world and not, as he infamously put it, via financial doping from wealthy individuals based in countries with dubious records on human rights and worse,” he said.

“It’s my belief that it’s Arsene Wenger’s commitment to the core values of British sport and society which have caused me to apply for this debate.

“Some have asked why I made time to call a debate of this type when the trains don’t work in my constituency.

“I say to those people, we have plenty of time during the day in Parliament to talk about the things that don’t work, or could work better, and as you know Mr Speaker, I spend a lot of my time doing just that.

“But it’s also important for us to talk about success and celebrate success and the contributions that people make.

“Not when they leave us and go to the great stadium in the sky, but to do so whilst they’re still with us.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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