Alan Duncan faces expulsion from Tory party for attacking ‘pro Israel extremist’ Conservatives

Tories announce investigation into Sir Alan Duncan 24 hours after he spoke out on Gaza in the Independent - after Independent highlighted concerns over influence of Conservative friends of Israel group

Archie Mitchell
Friday 05 April 2024 09:51 BST
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Former foreign minister Sir Alan Duncan is being investigated by Tory chiefs after he said pro-Israel “extremists” in the party should be kicked out because they refused to support international law.

Sir Alan said ex-cabinet minister Eric Pickles and Tory peer Stuart Polak, both members of the powerful Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) organisation, should both be thrown out of the party.

The CFI was being used to ‘exercise the interests of another country’ by lobbying for Israel, he said.

He also branded Michael Gove, Oliver Dowden, Suella Braverman, Robert Jenrick and Priti Patel “extremists” for failing to denounce unlawful Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

Conservative head office responded by launching an inquiry into Sir Alan’s comments, which could lead to him having the party whip withdrawn.

It comes as the party faces a split over the Gaza war, with figures including Sir Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Winston Churchill, former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, and Mark Logan, a PPS in the Department for Work and Pensions, among those calling for a suspension of UK arms to Israel.

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. He then he used an appearance on LBC to call for security minister Tom Tugendhat to be sacked for “not believing in international law”.

Sir Alan Duncan is under investigation by the Conservative Party (Getty Images)

Sir Alan, who served as a Conservative minister between 2010 and 2019, cited Mr Tugendhat’s past condemnation of the United Nations Security Council for criticising Israel’s settlements policy.

“Now, that may have been some years ago, but he’s never removed that, he’s never changed his view,” Sir Alan added. “How can you have a security minister in the British government, who does not believe in international law, when all this is going on? I think he [Tom Tugendhat] should be sacked.”

In the extraordinary radio interview, Sir Alan also said Lord Polak is “exercising the interests of another country, not that of the parliament in which he sits”.

And he said the peer and Lord Pickles are “the sort of Laurel and Hardy who should be pushed out together”.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said Sir Alan had effectively “accused two Conservative peers, one of whom is Jewish, of dual loyalties”.

It said: “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.”

Rishi Sunak is under mounting pressure to suspend arms sales to Israel (The Sun)

Conservative Friends of Israel vice-chairman, Tory MP Andrew Percy, said: “Alan Duncan is a ridiculous character and accusing a Jewish parliamentarian of working for Israel at a time of record levels of antisemitism not only puts that individual in danger but also risks fuelling Jew hate here in the UK. It is a reckless, ignorant and dangerous comment.”

He urged Sir Alan to remember Hamas “raped, butchered and murdered innocent civilians” on 7 October and said supporting Israel is “standing up to a terrorist rape and death cult”.

In a s separate article in The Independent this week, commentator Peter Oborne said the CFI had far too much power in the Conservative party.

A CCHQ source said: “Following his comments on LBC, Alan Duncan has been informed that he is under investigation by the party. These investigations generally take a couple of weeks and can result in expulsion.”

But a defiant Sir Alan said the decision to investigate him over accusations he used “antisemitic tropes” could prove “dangerously harmful” to the party’s reputation.

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