Labour’s pro-Israel MPs face wipe-out

Labour MPs under threat include Stoke-on-Trent MP Ruth Smeeth, Dudley North's Ian Austin and Joan Ryan, the chair of Labour Friends of Israel


The political careers of a number of key Jewish and pro-Israel Labour MPs are in doubt after Theresa May’s decision to call a snap general election.

According to most opinion polls, the Conservatives hold a lead over Labour of over 20 points.

If the result on June 8 comes even close to reflecting that then Labour MPs with 5,000-8,000 majorities will face defeat.

That would mean the end for Ivan Lewis, former Middle East Minister and Bury South MP, whose 2015 majority was 4,922.

Labour has performed poorly in Greater Manchester this year, losing the Kersal ward on Salford City Council in March for the first time in decades. Around 40 per cent of voters in the ward are Jewish.

Ruth Smeeth’s majority in Stoke North is 4,836, and David Winnick, at 83 Britain’s oldest Jewish MP, won by just 1,937 votes in Walsall North in 2015.

Pro-Israel Labour MPs under threat include Joan Ryan, the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, and Ian Austin, the son of a Holocaust survivor, who has repeatedly condemned Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of the antisemitism crisis.

Ms Ryan has a majority of just 1,086 in her Enfield North constituency, while Mr Austin won his Dudley North seat by 4,181 votes in 2015.

Jewish Labour MPs Louise Ellman and Luciana Berger, and Conservative Grant Shapps, have confirmed they will defend their seats.

Lee Scott, former Conservative MP for Ilford North, said he will fight to regain the seat he lost by 589 votes to Labour’s Wes Streeting in 2015.

Sarah Sackman, Labour’s 2015 candidate in Finchley and Golders Green —the constituency with the most Jewish voters — was still considering whether to launch a second challenge for the seat on Wednesday.

In Hendon, with the second highest proportion of Jewish constituents, Andrew Dismore, the former Labour MP who fought two close contests against Tory Matthew Offord in 2010 and 2015, also said he would decide in the coming days whether to stand again.

An exclusive JC poll a year ago showed Jewish support for Labour had collapsed after months of stories about Jew-hatred in the party and Mr Corbyn’s association with Holocaust deniers, terrorists and antisemites.

At that time, 8.5 per cent of British Jews said they would vote Labour in an election. The poll put Jewish support for the Conservatives at 66.5 per cent, with the Liberal Democrats on 3.8 per cent and Ukip on 1.9 per cent.

Among other Jewish MPs outlining their intentions, Conservatives Andrew Percy, Jonathan Djanogly, Robert Halfon, Michael Fabricant, Richard Harrington, Julian Lewis, Michael Ellis, and Lucy Frazer all said they intended to defend their seats.

Sir Oliver Letwin, MP for West Dorset, had planned to retire from the Commons in 2020, but said he would stand in June.

Julian Huppert, the Lib Dem who lost his Cambridge seat two years ago by 599 votes to Labour, will stand again.

John Bercow denied rumours he might retire and said he would also seek a return as Speaker of the Commons.

See all our Election 2017 coverage here

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