Labour MPs urge Jeremy Corbyn to overturn G4S boycott



A group of Labour MPs and peers has urged Jeremy Corbyn to reverse the proposed boycott of security firm G4S over its links to Israel.

More than a dozen supporters of Labour Friends of Israel signed a letter to Mr Corbyn on Tuesday asking him to call on the party’s national executive committee to “urgently review and overturn the decision”.

The NEC voted last month to boycott G4S over its work in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Britain’s largest security firm has repeatedly been attacked for supplying and maintaining technical equipment in some Israeli prisons in the West Bank.

LFI chair Joan Ryan MP wrote to Mr Corbyn to express “deep concern” with the plan to stop G4S providing security at the party’s annual conference.

She wrote that her group “cannot see how the NEC’s decision does anything other than contravene Labour’s long-standing position” on boycotts.

The letter was also signed by MPs including Ian Austin, Ruth Smeeth, Wes Streeting and John Woodcock, and peers Lord Mendelsohn, Lord Clarke and Baroness Ramsay. Trade Union Friends of Israel chair Michael Leahy and his predecessor Roger Lyons also backed the call for Mr Corbyn to overturn the decision.

Labour refused to comment further on the situation this week. A party committee arranging next year’s conference, due to take place in Liverpool in September, reportedly rejected the boycott proposal.

But the next NEC meeting is on January 26 and it is understood a decision will be taken at that point on whether to continue using G4S or break from the company altogether.

A number of executive members were said to have raised concerns that ditching the firm would cost jobs for Labour-affiliated trade union members.

The Israel advocacy group We Believe said it understood NEC members had received around 10 times as many pro-boycott emails as those opposing the move.

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