Government Ministers announced today new rules to stop politically-motivated boycott and divestment campaigns by town halls against UK defence companies and against Israel.
There is growing concern over the militant actions of left-wing councils, spurred on by trade unions and the Labour leadership, which threaten to poison community relations and harm Britain’s economic and international interests.
Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, alongside Labour-affiliated trade unions, are urging councils to use their procurement and pension policies to punish both Israel and the UK defence industry. Faith leaders have expressed alarm at such policies fuelling anti-Semitism – and worryingly encouraging further protests such as kosher food being taken from supermarket shelves and Jewish films being banned. Separate hard-left campaigns against British defence companies threaten to harm Britain’s £10 billion export trade, destroying British jobs, and hinder joint working with Israel to protect Britain from foreign cyber-attacks and terrorism.
The Government will amend pension legislation to make clear using pensions and procurement policies to pursuit boycotts, divestments and sanctions campaigns against foreign nations and the UK defence industry are inappropriate, other than where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the Government. The Government will similarly issue new Procurement Policy guidance to implement the same approach in procurement law.
Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:
“Divisive policies undermine good community relations, and harm the economic security of families by pushing up council tax. We need to challenge and prevent the politics of division. Conservatives will provide the stable, competent and sensible Government that working people want to see.”
Matthew Hancock, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:
“Conservatives are on the common ground. We will take steps to stop such outdated policies being pursued through procurement and pension policies. We will safeguard the security of families at home and prevent such playground politics undermining our international security.”