Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned the Jewish community that the threat posed by a Jeremy Corbyn-led government is “very real” - and says he is “working flat out” to ensure a decisive majority for the Conservative Party at next week’s general election.
In a wide-ranging interview with the JC immediately after addressing world leaders at this week’s NATO summit, Mr Johnson said he found it “utterly horrifying and bewildering” that the Labour leader had claimed he had taken decisive steps to tackle the antisemitism crisis within his party.
“It’s clear that when people like Luciana Berger are obliged to leave the Labour Party, when people like Louise Ellman decided to leave, when I read the words of very good people like John Mann and others, it is clear there is a sickness in the Labour Party under Mr Corbyn’s leadership that been allowed to take hold.”
Mr Johnson insisted that Mr Corbyn’s record was in stark contrast to that of his own party: “We in the Conservative Party have a very tough approach to prejudice of any kind. We kick it out.”
The Tory leader said he was “proud” of his party’s record on tackling anti-Jewish racism both within the Tory Party itself and within wider society.
Mr Johnson added: “We were the first government in the world to adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism. We made my good friend Eric Pickles the global envoy for post-Holocaust issues.
“We are putting quite a lot of money into the National Holocaust Memorial and Leaning Centre, which I think will be a great thing. It is very important to inspire the collective memory, the horror of what happened, and to make sure that it never happens again.”
Mr Johnson also emphasised the extra funding his government is putting into tackling online hatred and said he had been a “big admirer” of the Community Security Trust for “many, many years.”
“We bat for the CST and have done for a long time,” he said, stressing the £65.2 million Jewish Community Protective Security Grant provided by the Tories since its introduction in 2015.
The PM expressed his dismay that such steps were needed to protect British Jewish community from harm in this day and age.
“Do you know what I really think about it?”, he said. “I find it unbelievable that in 2019 you and I are having this conversation - that this really is what has become of Labour.”
Mr Johnson continued: “What has gone wrong is really a failure of leadership. He has not stamped it out. To me it is utterly horrifying and bewildering that this should have happened.”
Mr Johnson also reflected on wider concern by his government on the impact of text books preaching “incitement and hatred against the Jewish people” circulated within Palestinian schools.He added: “We are deeply concerned by the Palestinian Authority’s new curriculum.”
Pressed over concerns in Jewish schools about the lack of funding for basics in the classroom and keeping teachers, and the increased need for donations from parents, Mr Johnson said: “We are increasing budgets for both primary and secondary schools ensuring higher pupil funding arrangements.
Mr Johnson accepted that while there could be no complaint about the money provided to protect the community, much more needed to be done on issues such as the funding of schools, hospitals and policing.
Returning to the threat posed by Jeremy Corbyn, the prime minister said: “No-one in British politics can be remotely complacent about any of this. The threat is very real.
“There are only two mathematical possibilities. One is a working Conservative majority and the other is a hung parliament with Mr Corbyn as prime minister. I find it deeply, deeply, worrying. It’s a disaster for this country if he were to get in.”
As he left Wednesday’s NATO Summit in Watford, Mr Johnson dismissed fears that the unity of the alliance was in doubt as a result of tensions between senior figures such as Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron.
With Israel as a key NATO partner, he was keen to dispel fears that problems within the alliance, on the 70th anniversary of its existence, would be bad news for the Jewish state. “I think the NATO alliance is actually very in good health,” he insisted.
“I don’t see any signs of instability in NATO that should worry our friends and partners around the world. This is an alliance that had 70 years of guaranteed peace and prosperity. It is now a billion people, there are about to be 30 countries that are members.