Downing Street says ministers ‘free to decide which events to speak at’

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Downing Street says ministers ‘free to decide which events to speak at’

Rishi Sunak's deputy spokesperson confirmed he did not agree with views such as those expressed by David Starkey in relation to the Holocaust at the NatCon conference

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

David Starkey speaks at NatCon
David Starkey speaks at NatCon

Downing Street says it is a matter for ministers to decide which events they speak at after being asked if the prime minister was concerned that senior members of the government – including home secretary Suella Braverman and levelling up secretary Michael Gove – had appeared at this week’s controversial National Conservatism conference.

Asked about ministers decision to participate at a conference at which there was concern as some speakers faced claims of antisemitism and racism, Rishi Sunak’s deputy spokesperson told journalists:”Ministers will speak at a range of events, it is for them to decide which events they speak at.”

Questioned on whether this meant that ministers were “free” to speak at whatever event they wanted the spokesperson added:”With regards to specific ministerial events that should be a matter for them.”

The PM was himself travelling to Japan for the G7 summit on Wednesday.

Sunak’s deputy spokesperson said the prime minister “would not agree with comments” such as those made by the controversial historian David Starkey on Wednesday, when he suggested the “left” were attempting to replace the Holocaust with slavery.

The MP Miriam Cates had sparked anger on Monday, after using the term “cultural Marxism” in her speech, claiming it was “destroying the souls” of children in this country. The term is views as antisemitic dog whistle by some in the community, although others defended the MP saying she was a “friend of the Jews.”

There was further controversy at the conference on Tuesday, when the writer and commentator Douglas Murray defended the rise of nationalism in Israel and the UK, saying it should not be tainted because Germany “mucked up” twice in a century.

Some Tory MPs also accused the home secretary of launching her own leadership bid when she spoke at the NatCon conference on Monday, with speech railing against experts and elites, and calling for further controls on immigration.

Deputy party chairman and MP Lee Anderson was also due to speak as the NatCon conference.

Labour leader Keir Starmer had told his MPs the Tories had responded to their election drubbing with “a series of mad hatter’s tea parties” which were “carnivals of conspiracy and blame”

The NatCon conference was organised by the Edmund Burke Foundation  whose chair is American-Israeli populist theologian Yoram Hazony.
There were also calls for Sunak to take firmer action over ministers taking part in events such as NatCon.

The Jewish Labour Movement’s national chair Mike Katz tweeted: “Speakers at the @natcontalk conference have used the antisemitic trope of cultural Marxism, downplayed the Holocaust and now this.

“Tory MPs and cabinet ministers past and present have shared this platform, legitimising cranks and extremists on the right. Yet Sunak does nothing.”


Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: