Tory activists campaign in Barnet, amid speculation about a snap General Election

Party chairman Brandon Lewis urged activists to turn out in the area where Labour's antisemitism crisis cost it votes last year


Conservatives were campaigning to win over voters in Barnet - where Labour's failures last year highlighted Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle the party's antisemitism crisis - at the weekend, amid speculation a snap General Election will be called this summer.

Activists hit the icy streets of Chipping Barnet on Sunday in an initiative backed by Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis that was aimed at boosting the chances of MP Theresa Villiers retaining the seat she won with a majority of just 353 at the last election.

The former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has always been a staunch supporter of Israel – a point that was raised with Jewish voters on the doorstep.

At last week’s Conservative Friends of Israel parliamentary reception, the Tory chairman appealed for attendees to join Sunday’s campaign on the streets of Barnet, saying “the difference you make is phenomenal”.

In a clear hint of a possible general election, he said: “In Barnet in 2018 it was highlighted what a difference that extra bit of effort can make. The effort work you did made sure we won back control of Barnet – and we won divisions by one single vote.

“That time of effort you put in makes a massive difference.”

On Sunday, newspaper reports claimed Downing Street advisors were considering calling a Gational Election for June 6, to follow Britain's scheduled exit from the EU in March and local council elections in May. 

But a Downing Street spokesman said the reports were “100 per cent untrue”.

But Tory chiefs are said to be buoyed by recent opinion polls which gave their party a lead of around 6 per cent in the polls – with continued concern over Labour’s approach to Brexit and antisemitism at the heart of many voters complaints.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said on Sunday: “I know that Conservative party headquarters is planning on only one set of elections, which is the local government elections.

"The last thing this country wants is an election; they want parliament to deliver Brexit in an orderly way.”

Mr Lewis is set to address the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee on Wednesday, where he is expected to further discuss the election rumours swirling around Westminster.

Across Barnet – which includes the constituencies of Finchley and Golders Green, and Hendon – the large Jewish vote will be targeted by the Conservatives in the run up to any election, with Labour’s failings over antisemitism openly stressed.

Labour recently selected Emma Whysall to contest the Chipping Barnet seat again – after she came so close to defeating Ms Villiers in 2017.

But Ms Whysall was targeted with antisemitic abuse, because her campaign was backed by the Jewish Labour Movement.

In the neighbouring Finchley and Golders Green seat, Labour has yet to select their candidate to challenge sitting MP Mike Freer.

Jewish Voice For Labour activist Jenny Manson had set her sights on standing for Labour – but the move could infuriate most Jewish voters in seat as JVL challenges the notion Labour has a problem of widespread antisemitism.

In 2017 Mr Freer – who is a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel -  won a majority of 1,657 over Labour’s Jeremy Newmark.

In Hendon – which Conservative MP Matthew Offord narrowly won at the last election – David Pinto-Duschinsky has been selected to stand for Labour.

Mr Offord is another outspoken supporter of Israel.

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