Prescott pulls out of business convention

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LORD Prescott has pulled out of the Yorkshire International Business Convention over the appearance of the Dalai Lama, organisers have said.

The former Deputy Prime Minister had been due to share the stage with Michael Portillo in a head-to-head debate at the convention in Leeds on June 15.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate is due to appear the same day as headline speaker.

Organiser Mike Firth told the Yorkshire Post that Lord Prescott “has been pondering his involvement with YIBC for a couple of weeks. He has strong political connections with China and doesn’t want to offend them with possible ‘Tibet’ issues”.

Mr Firth added: “I talked to him yesterday and suggested he should withdraw, rather than appear half-heartedly. He agreed.

“The Dalai Lama is appearing in a non-political role and will not be talking [on] China or Tibet issues.

“He will be talking about humanity and ethics which are clearly topical subjects.”

China has ruled Tibet since 1950. It rejects criticism that it is suppressing Tibetan culture and faith, claiming its rule has brought development to a backward region.

Lord Prescott did not respond to calls for comment from the Yorkshire Post.

Other YIBC speakers include retail-guru-turned-government-adviser, Mary Portas, and Sir Richard Branson’s former right-hand man, Will Whitehorn.