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Left-wing football pundit Gary Neville 'groomed for political career by Sir Keir Starmer'

Outspoken football pundit Gary Neville is being tipped for a political career after holding talks with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer about ‘shared political interests’.

The former Manchester United and England defender – a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s soak-the-rich far-Left policies, despite having a £70 million fortune – has held at least two Zoom meetings with Sir Keir in recent months, party sources have said.

One insider predicted that Neville could succeed former Cabinet Minister Andy Burnham as Mayor of Manchester, if Mr Burnham returns to the Commons to pursue his ambition of becoming the next Labour leader.

However, a party spokesman last night stressed this was not addressed during the Zoom meetings.

Sky pundit Gary Neville, pictured at Wembley Stadium in March, is being tipped for a political career after holding talks with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer about ‘shared political interests’

Neville pictured taunting Liverpool fans in 2006. Among the issues discussed by Sir Keir and Neville was the aborted attempt earlier this year to set up a European Super League

Critics also pointed out that putting up Neville as a candidate in Manchester would risk alienating Labour supporters in Leeds and Liverpool, who would never vote for a former Manchester United player.

Among the issues discussed by Sir Keir and Neville was the aborted attempt earlier this year to set up a European Super League, containing six Premier League clubs, to which Neville was passionately opposed.

During an acclaimed polemic on Sky Sports, he declared himself to be ‘disgusted’ by the plan and ‘ashamed’ of Manchester United.

In recent months, Neville has also criticised Boris Johnson describing Muslim women as looking like ‘letterboxes’ in a newspaper column before he became Tory leader, accusing the Prime Minister of effectively stoking the racism shown towards England players during the 2020 Euros.

As a member of ITV’s punditry team, Neville also compared Mr Johnson unfavourably with England manager Gareth Southgate, saying: ‘The standards of leaders in this country in the last couple of years has been poor. And looking at [Gareth Southgate] there, that’s everything a leader should be: respectful, humble, telling the truth, genuine. He’s fantastic.’

Neville has also criticised Priti Patel for tweeting her support for the England team, responding to the Home Secretary’s message by saying: ‘The cheek of you!’ – because of her dismissive attitude towards footballers who ‘take the knee’ against racism.

Neville has held at least two Zoom meetings with Sir Keir (pictured at Prime Minister's Questions on July 14) in recent months, party sources have said

In December, the 46-year-old ex-footballer accused Sir Keir of ‘sitting in the stands’ by not demanding greater economic support for Britons during lockdowns. He said: ‘The restrictions in place to protect health is fine, but they know that the economic support isn’t in place aligned with those restrictions, which means you’ve got to take a position and be bold and go against it, you cannot abstain.’

A party source said: ‘Gary has such a powerful platform, through TV and his five million Twitter followers that I think Keir has concluded it’s best to have him inside the tent – despite his former support for Corbyn.’

Neville urged his followers to vote for Corbyn before the 2019 General Election, in which Labour recorded its worst performance for nearly a century. Neville, who won eight Premier League titles and two Champions League titles with Manchester United, built his fortune through his football salary, commentary work and shrewd investments.

A spokesman for Neville did not respond to a request for comment.

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