The removal of a portrait of Winston Churchill from the New Zealand parliament building has sparked fury with opposition leader Judith Collins saying she was “disgusted” by the move – but prime minister Jacinda Ardern insisted she “didn’t care”.
Collins, who leads the National Party in New Zealand tweeted an image of Britain’s wartime leader being pulled from its position, reportedly called for by the parliament’s Art Committee, chaired by Green MP Dr Elizabeth Kerekere.
“Sir Winston Churchill, the greatest anti-fascist leader of the 20th century is removed from the walls of Parliament because the Greens don’t like him,” tweeted Collins who pledged to “find a home” for the painting within her party’s parliamentary offices.
Collins said: “He belongs in parliament because, if you know your history, he was one of the very few political leaders who were prepared to stand up to the Nazis and fascists in World War 2.
“I just think the Greens are uninformed by history. What do they want him replaced with – do they want Stalin up there?
“I’m actually really pi**ed off. I’m disgusted that parliament has actually let this happen,” she added.
Collins’ colleague, National MP Simeon Brown tweeted: “How absolutely pathetic of the Green Party. Their ignorance of history is shameful.”
The Green MP responsible, Ms Kerekere hit back, saying it was “disappointing to see Judith Collins focusing on the placement of a painting” rather than focusing on the important issues.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern however admitted she “didn’t care” about the portrait’s removal.
“I care about what we do in this place,” Ardern told reporters. “We have got a responsibility to look after New Zealand in the massive crisis that we are facing. Frankly, who hangs on the wall at the time we do it? I don’t care.”
Sir Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Churchill and a former Conservative MP expressed his disappointment at the snub, telling Express.co.uk: “It’s rather a pity that a Commonwealth country and an ally of the United Kingdom would choose to take down a picture of my grandfather.”
His former colleague and chair of the Commons’ Defence Select Committee, Dr Julian Lewis added: “The armed forces of New Zealand had a heroic record in fighting alongside those of the then British Empire to defeat Naziism and Japanese imperialism.
“Those veterans would undoubtedly be disgusted at the perversity, historical illiteracy and total inappropriateness of the decision.”