Conservative manifesto pledges ban on council Israel boycotts

Mainifesto aims to contrast with Corbyn's defence of BDS


LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 16: Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Dowden arrives at Downing Street on October 16, 2019 in London, England. UK and EU negotiators continue to try to reach a withdrawal agreement ahead of the EU summit tomorrow. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)


The Conservatives have vowed to ban councils from boycotting products from Israel.

A pledge in their election manifesto, to be launched on Sunday, says: “We will ban public bodies from imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts, disinvestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries. These undermine community cohesion."

The Tories say that under a majority government led by Boris Johnson they will move to ban councils from imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts, including those against Israel and other countries.

This would end local council power to dictate foreign policy agendas that are funded by taxpayers.

This introduction of a new law would prevent Labour-run councils and other public bodies from using taxpayers' money to bankroll unofficial boycotts, divestment and sanction campaigns against foreign countries.

The manifesto pledge is designed to contrast the party with Jeremy Corbyn, who has said banning BDS by councils is an “attack on local democracy”.

Conservative ministers have accused these “hate-filled” campaigns of undermining community cohesion and stressed the need for public bodies to focus on their ‘day jobs’ rather than pursuing their own foreign policy programmes.

Oliver Dowden, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: "Rather than promoting coexistence, debate and dialogue, these left-wing boycotts sow hatred and alienation.

"Conservatives will prevent British taxpayers' money from bankrolling division and stop these damaging boycotts once and for all.”

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said:"“Town hall boycotts undermine good community relations, weakening integration and fuelling antisemitism.

"Local public bodies should focus on their day jobs – such as running libraries and collecting bins, rather than running a divisive foreign policy from town halls."

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