Board president questions senior Conservative MP’s ‘courage and integrity’

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Board president questions senior Conservative MP’s ‘courage and integrity’

An extraordinary war of words has broken out between the Board of Deputies and Conservative Robert Halfon, after the MP accused it of being a "broadcasting service" for Labour.

Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies

The president of the Board of Deputies has questioned the “courage and integrity” of a senior Conservative MP after he accused the communal umbrella group of being a “political broadcasting service” for the Labour Party.

Marie van der Zyl hit back hard at claims by former Minister without Portfolio Robert Halfon that in its latest weekly email to the community it had failed to wish Prime Minister Boris Johnson well as he recovers from Covid-19.

In a devastating attack, the MP for Harlow told the Jewish Chronicle he believed the Board requires “radical reform” and does not represent Tory MPs who work “day and night for the Jewish community”.

Hitting back hard, the Board’s president posted a long statement on Facebook on Sunday afternoon, questioning Halfon’s “courage and integrity”. She wrote: “Robert Halfon’s central contention is very strange. After four and a half years of Jeremy Corbyn and Labour antisemitism, the community’s interest is not in ignoring Labour and letting our enemies fill the void, but rather challenging the new leadership to reverse the hostility of the previous regime, and that is exactly what we are doing.

Robert Halfon

“That the JC was prepared to take Mr Halfon’s version of events at face value is bizarre given that they themselves have reported facts which point to the opposite of what he says. For example, for me the saddest part about this article is the disingenuous suggestion that the Board failed to ask after the welfare of the Prime Minister who is now thankfully out of hospital and will be returning to work tomorrow. The JC knows that on 5 and 6 April the Board issued statements wishing the Prime Minister well. These were both reported in the Jewish press. The JC themselves wrote a story about the Board’s second statement after the PM was moved to ICU.”

Van der Zyl added that she has since attempted to speak to Halfon: “Despite contacting him via his mobile, his office number, his email and via social media – requesting times where he might be available to speak – he has still not spoken to me, which does bring into question his courage and integrity.”

Robert Halfon MP has been approached for comment.

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