Jagger snubs Davos over ‘political football’ row

Legendary rock star Mick Jagger is bowing out of a planned appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos over concerns he was to be used for political purposes by Britain’s Conservative party.

Jagger snubs Davos over 'political football' row
Brigitte Lacombe (File)

Jagger, 68, was set to appear with other Brits, such as model Lily Cole and Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the worldwide web, at a tea party organized for the WEF at the posh Graubünden ski resort.

But the lead singer of the Rolling Stones had second thoughts about participating in the event, hosted by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron as a showcase for Britain at the elite gathering of government and business leaders.

Jagger, who rarely involves himself in such events, said he was concerned about being used as a “political football”.

”During my career I have always eschewed party politics and came to Davos as a guest, as I thought it would be stimulating,” he said in a statement.

”I have always been interested in economics and world events. I now find myself being used as a political football and there has been a lot of comment about my political allegiances which are inaccurate.”

Jagger added that “I think it’s best I decline the invitation to the key event and curtail my visit.”

The knighted musician flew into Zurich on Tuesday morning and was scheduled to leave Switzerland on Wednesday.

The withdrawal came as a disappointment to WEF organizers and the British government, run by a coalition of Conservatives and Liberal-Democrats, with Cameron at the helm.

The tea party was designed to promote British talent as well as this year’s Summer Olympic Games in London and Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.

But Jagger’s planned appearance led to headlines in British newspapers, such as “Sympathy for the Dave-il”, that suggested he was a Conservative party sympathizer.

Prime Minister Cameron’s office had earlier welcomed the star’s involvement in the event.

But Downing Street denied that he was being used for political purposes.

“Clearly we are disappointed that Sir Mick doesn’t feel he can support a non-political event that promotes Britain,” a source from the prime minister’s office told The Guardian newspaper.

“At no point was there ever any suggestion that Sir Mick was a Conservative . .  .This is simply an event that promotes British creativity abroad.”

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Switzerland: 2021 Davos summit shifted to Lucerne in May

The World Economic Forum announced Wednesday that its postponed 2021 Davos summit, themed as "The Great Reset" in the coronavirus crisis, will take place in Lucerne, Switzerland from May 18 to 21.

Switzerland: 2021 Davos summit shifted to Lucerne in May
Participants at the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2020. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The annual gathering of the world's political, economic and business elite traditionally takes place in January against the idyllic snowy backdrop of the Swiss Alpine village of Davos.

But it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and, charged with remodelling the world economy in the wake of the crisis, will now be held 125 kilometres (75 miles) away in the plush Burgenstock resort overlooking Lake Lucerne.

“The meeting will take place as long as all conditions are in place to guarantee the health and safety of participants and the host community,” WEF spokesman Adrian Monck said in a statement.

“The meeting will focus on the solutions required to address the world's most pressing challenges. “Global leaders will come together to design a common recovery path, to shape 'The Great Reset' in the post-Covid-19 era and rebuild a more cohesive and sustainable society.”

Hybrid format

The WEF announced in June that the 51st edition of its annual meeting would take place in a hybrid format, then in August said it was being delayed for several months to reduce any risks to participants from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lucerne summit will combine both in-person and virtual elements, with participants linked to a network of around 400 hubs worldwide to incorporate dialogue with the WEF's “young global shapers, to ensure openness and inclusion”, said Monck.

The summit will be preceded during the week of January 25 by digitally-convened high-level “Davos Dialogues”, when global leaders will share their views on the state of the world in 2021.

The novel coronavirus has killed more than 1.04 million people while at least 35.5 million infections have been recorded since the outbreak emerged in China late last year, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

The pandemic has also triggered a global economic downturn, though the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday that while it is far from over, it will not be as bad as originally feared thanks to a flood of government spending.

The World Trade Organization said likewise, forecasting a global trade contraction of 9.2 percent this year, rather than its previous “optimistic scenario” prediction of 12.9 percent.

But global trade will then grow by only 7.2 percent next year, rather than the previous 21.3-percent estimate issued in April, the WTO added.

Swiss cases rising

The WEF announcement comes as Switzerland announced Wednesday that daily coronavirus cases had jumped over the 1,000-mark for the first time since April 1, when the peak of the pandemic's initial wave began to recede.

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset has urged the country to “get a grip” and be more rigorous in applying the basic measures to control the spread of the virus.

The 2020 edition of the WEF summit, hosted in January just as the world was beginning to become aware of the new coronavirus spreading in China, drew more than 50 heads of state and government to Davos.

It focused on themes of sustainability and finding a more inclusive model for capitalism. US President Donald Trump and Swedish teenage eco-warrior Greta Thunberg were among its top speakers.

The WEF said it aims to be back in Davos for 2022.