Jewish MPs take up top positions in new government

A former B'nai B'rith Youth Organisation leader and a director of a Middle East peace foundation are among the Jewish politicians appointed as part of the new coalition government.

Grant Shapps, a one-time BBYO youth leader, who is now Conservative MP for Welwyn Hatfield, has been appointed Housing Minister and will work under Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

Oliver Letwin, a former shadow chancellor and shadow home secretary, and an architect of the coalition deal between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, has been made Minister of State for Policy and will attend Cabinet meetings when required.

Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, becomes a junior Home Office minister, with responsibility for equalities.

On her first day in the role, she said she was "very disappointed" by her "male and pale" colleagues in government.

Jonathan Djanogly, a member of New London Synagogue, has become Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice. He is the Conservative MP for Huntington, the seat once held by Tory Prime Minister Sir John Major.

Lord Freud, the former vice-chairman of UBS Investment Banking, has been appointed Minister for Welfare Reform.

Lord Freud, a former financial journalist who spent his gap year in Israel in 1968, was chief executive of the Portland Trust - a not-for-profit organisation that seeks peace between Palestinians and Israelis through economic development - between 2005 and 2008.

He remains a trustee and director.

Meanwhile, a number of Jewish politicians and business leaders have been tipped to become peers as part of the new coalition's House of Lords reshape.

In the coalition document, David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg have agreed to create new peers to be "reflective of the vote" at the general election.

Potential Conservative peers include former leader Michael Howard, party co-chairman Andrew Feldman, Next boss Simon Wolfson and former Labour Treasury adviser Sir James Sassoon, who is also expected to get a ministerial position.

Under the proposals, Sir James, who quit his position under Labour in 2008, will work with the Treasury team and Department of Business in reconstructing financial services.

Last updated: 1:48pm, May 21 2010