Senior Jewish Conservative MP Halfon announces he is quitting politics

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Senior Jewish Conservative MP Halfon announces he is quitting politics

In a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Harlow MP Robert Halfon wrote: 'I feel that it is time for me to step down at the forthcoming general election, and in doing so, to resign as a minister in your government'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Robert Halfon
Robert Halfon

One of the Conservative Party’s most senior Jewish MPs has announced he is quitting his government role as higher education minister, and will also be standing down at the general election.

The MP for Harlow wrote to prime minister Rishi Sunak stating:”I feel that it is time for me to step down at the forthcoming general election, and in doing so, to resign as a minister in your government.”

Having served his constituency for nearly 14 years, Halfon has been an outspoken supporter of Israel, and has also been a campaigning voice in parliament against antisemitism.

He once declared:”I am a proud Jewish Member of Parliament. My faith influences me because Jewish tradition is focused around education, work ethic, compassion and support for the state of Israel.

“Being Jewish I have always learnt about the Holocaust which forms the backdrop of Jewish historical learning.”

Left to right: Harlow MP Robert Halfon, Gideon Falter, CEO CAA, Mark Gardner, CEO CST. Pic: I-GNITE

The 55 year-old also once admitted that one of the three things that motivate him in politics is “unashamed support for the State of Israel, as the only real democracy and progressive force in the Middle East”

A vice president of the Jewish Leadership Council, Halfon’s resignation as skills, apprenticeships and higher education minister, was unexpected.

He has also played a leading role in the influential Conservative Friends of Israel organisation.

Halfon attempted to get the advocacy organisation Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) banned from the House of Commons in 2011

He has also campaigned against Libyan funding of British universities, prompted by the experiences of his Italian-Jewish refugee grandfather Renato Halfon, who was making a living in Libya before being expelled alongside other Jews.

Only last month praised the government’s efforts to tackle antisemtism telling a Jewish newspaper of plans to introduce a “seal of quality” awarded only to universities that adhere to “the highest standards in dealing with antisemitism.”

He said of rising antisemitism on campus:“We are going to deal with this. We are going to stamp it out.”

Addressing a parliamentary select committee last week Halfon said:”I fear that there is ghettoisation going on across universities, with Jewish students unable to do what they should be doing – having the best time of their life at university

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