Keir Starmer makes PMQs reference to Joe Lycett’s Qatar stunt – but misses point entirely

A screenshot of Labour leader Keir Starmer standing in front of a blue background and talking at a political conference

Joe Lycett made so many waves with his money-shredding stunt in support of LGBTQ+ people in Qatar that he even got a (slightly confused) shout-out from Keir Starmer in the House of Commons.

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday (23 November), Starmer demanded prime minister Rishi Sunak scrap non-domiciled tax status and accused him of “hammering working people”.

“The failure of the last 12 years and the chaos of the last 12 weeks are compounded by the decisions he is taking now,” Starmer said.

“He won’t follow Labour’s plan to scrap non-dom status. Instead, we have got an NHS staffing crisis. He won’t follow Labour’s plans to make oil and gas giants pay their fair share, instead he hammers working people.”

Starmer also claimed that the levy brought in by Sunak as chancellor meant that these giants “haven’t paid a penny in windfall tax”, and before bizarrely referencing Lycett: “You may have seen this week that somebody shredded £10,000 in protest at those propping up an oil and gas giant.

“But he shreds £10,000 every other minute propping them up. Which does he think is the more absurd?”

What was Starmer on about?

This month, comedian Joe Lycett gave David Beckham an ultimatum to pull out of his deal to be the face of Qatar, the strictly anti-LGBTQ+ country currently hosting the World Cup.

He threatened to shred £10,000, destroying both the money and Beckham’s reputation as a “gay icon”.

He later revealed, having received no response from Beckham, that he had not actually shredded the money, instead donating it to LGBTQ+ charities.

So while QatarEnergy is in fact a gas giant, with the largest liquefied natural gas export capacity of any natural gas company in the world, Starmer’s reference entirely missed the point of Lycett’s stunt, which was in protest against the World Cup being held in a country where being LGBTQ+ is illegal.

Nevertheless, the Labour Party Twitter account doubled down on the strange comparison, tweeting: “Every two and a half minutes the Tories give £10,000 of your money to oil and gas companies. They might as well put it in a shredder. Labour would have a proper windfall tax to help lower your energy bills.”

Twitter users were frustrated that Starmer had mentioned the stunt without any reference to LGBTQ+ lives. Lycett, on the other hand, received widespread praise for the hoax, which aimed to increase discussion around human rights violations in Qatar. 

In the last of three videos, Joe Lycett revealed the “truth”, explaining: “I would never destroy real money. I would never be so irresponsible.

“In fact, the £10,000 had already been donated to LGBTQ+ charities before I even pressed send on the initial tweet.

“I never expected to hear from you – it was an empty threat, designed to get people talking.

“–In many ways, it was like your deal with Qatar, David: total bulls**t from the start.”