Alan Duncan hits back over potential expulsion from Tory party for attacking ‘pro Israel extremist’ Conservatives

Sir Alan Duncan accused two Conservative peers of ‘exercising the interests of another country’

Archie Mitchell
Friday 05 April 2024 12:02 BST
Netanyahu rejects Biden pleas for restraint in Gaza

A Tory former minister has said the party’s decision to investigate him over accusations he used “antisemitic tropes” could prove “dangerously harmful” to the party’s reputation.

Sir Alan Duncan said the Conservative Party had not informed him of its decision to open a disciplinary investigation into him following an interview on LBC in which he accused two Tory peers of “exercising the interests of another country”.

The ex MP, who served as a Foreign Office minister under Theresa May, claimed the Conservative Friends of Israel group was “doing the bidding of Netanyahu” and called for two of its prominent members: Lord Polak and Lord Pickles; to be “removed from the House of Lords”.

Sir Alan Duncan said ‘the Conservative Friends of Israel group was “doing the bidding of Netanyahu’ (PA)

He said: “I think the time has come to flush out those extremists in our own parliamentary politics and around it.”

It is understood that the Conservative Party wrote to Sir Alan following his interview to inform him he had been placed under investigation, a process that could result in his expulsion from the party.

In a statement, Sir Alan said: “Although I have heard nothing myself, I have been told by many in the media that the Conservative Party has issued a statement to say that I am to be investigated by them with a view to expulsion.

“They did not lay out any substantive grounds for their action.

“If this is indeed their intention, I will probably be the only person ever to be reproached for upholding his Party’s policy and for defending the principles of international law and justice in the face of others who would undermine them.

Rishi Sunak has resisted calls to suspend arms sales to Israel (Henry Nicholls/PA Wire)

“Should they choose to pursue this they should not be surprised if it rebounds on them massively and proves dangerously harmful to their own reputation.”

But on Friday morning Lord Mann, the government’s independent advisor on antisemitism, said Sir Alan’s comments were “absurdly antisemitic”. “It's almost as if Alan Duncan is trying to get himself expelled from the Conservative Party, he's digging deeper,” he told LBC.

Sir Alan added: “It's factually nonsense and deeply disingenuous.”

His comments on LBC brought condemnation from the Jewish Leadership Council and the Campaign Against Antisemitism, which both accused Sir Alan of using “antisemitic tropes”.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism said it was “not the first time that he has made accusations of parliamentarians being controlled by Israel” and called for him to be expelled from the party.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews echoed those calls, saying: “The comments by Sir Alan Duncan effectively accuse two Conservative peers, one of whom is Jewish, of dual loyalties.

“This is disgraceful; we understand the Conservatives have opened an investigation into Sir Alan’s conduct and we believe the party should consider whether his position as a party member is tenable.”

Lord Polak, who is Jewish, served as director of the Conservative Friends of Israel for 26 years and is now its honorary president while Lord Pickles chairs the group in the Lords and is also the UK special envoy for post-Holocaust issues.

In his interview, Sir Alan also accused several ministers and former ministers of not supporting international law by failing to condemn illegal settlements, including: security minister Tom Tugendhat; Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden;; Communities Secretary Michael Gove; and former home secretary, Suella Braverman.

In a subsequent interview with Times Radio, he said: “I think we’re entitled to call them extremists. They should be called out.”

Sir Alan, who stepped down as an MP in 2017, launched an outspoken attack on Israel in an article in The Independent in which he argued it could no longer be considered an ally by the UK.

In the article, he said: “By annexing the West Bank, breaking international law, and now appearing to want to destroy Gaza as a place fit for humans, it is betraying the enlightened principles of its founders, and is not in any way behaving as a democracy should.

“We should salute our aid heroes by devoting our efforts to securing a Palestinian state. In the meantime, all responsible governments must urgently assess whether they can any longer regard Israel as an ally.”

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