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Diverse community needs answers

Our community has thrived in the UK but many of the aspects that ensure this are directly linked to EU legislation, says Simon Johnson

    The 2016 referendum only gave voters two options: leave or remain.

    The result of that vote is now in the hands of our Parliamentarians as we negotiate one of the most comprehensive constitutional changes in living memory.

    That is why, together with the Board of Deputies, we launched our paper Brexit and the Jewish Community on Monday in Parliament.

    Bringing together voices from both sides of the Brexit debate, we were able to discuss the desires of the Jewish community in post-EU Britain.

    Our community has thrived in the UK but many of the aspects that ensure this are directly linked to EU legislation. Many of these concerns are shared with other faith communities and that is why it was so important to place these issues into the ongoing debate.

    While in the EU, we have been covered by a shared anti-terror framework in addition to our own.

    This has led to a situation where the EU financially sanctions Hamas in its entirety but the UK has its own sanctions only on the armed wing. We must not let our sanctions be weakened in leaving the EU. Anything else would endanger our security.

    Our community is a global one and many of us rely on trade with Israel including the religious items and foods on which we depend. EU-Israel trade has been increasingly liberalised over the last two decades.

    A post-Brexit UK should not only avoid a reversal of this positive trend but even have the potential to commit to closer trade arrangements in the future.

    Leaving the EU also provides the UK with an opportunity to rethink our immigration policy. We have many organisations within our community who show best practice in the fields of social care, education and security.

    If their access to skilled labour is made harder, the vital services they provide will suffer. Ease of movement between the UK and Israel is particularly important, be it to visit family or benefit from a community shaliach.

    That is why we want the liberal visa regime between our two countries to be sustained.

    Fundamental to successful Jewish life in any country is the ability to practice our religion freely. Currently, our right to practice shechita is enshrined within EU agricultural policy. Successive British governments have pledged to maintain this right and our withdrawal makes it even more important that they continue to do so.

    Ultimately, our community is diverse and will hold a variety of views about this process.

    Whether you agree with Brexit or not, the way in which we leave will affect us all and that it is why we hope the government will listen to the Jewish community to ensure that the future of this country is successful for all of its citizens.

    Simon Johnson is the Jewish Leadership Council’s chief executive

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