Updated: Jun 22
BREXIT: GOOD OR BAD?
Is the UK's Referendum result good or bad news for the Jews?
Former Media Adviser to UK politicians Charles Golding asks if it's good or bad news for the Jews. [First published in the Jewish Tribune, June 2016]
“You’d better start packing your suitcase now” said a Conservative MP to me last week on the day the EU referendum results were announced, “at the moment they are going for the Muslims, next it’ll be the Jews!”. His comments were said tongue in cheek; we are safer in England than probably anywhere in Europe. But the Tory backbencher firmly believed that this was a vote fuelled by xenophobia and lit by European Muslim immigration.
For those who have been living media-free over the last week, you have missed two events of differing importance; Britain voted itself out of the European Union and the Prime Minister David Cameron resigned. England was knocked out of Euro 2016 by Iceland and the England manager Roy Hodgson resigned. It’s ironic that sport and politics parallel to each other in events this week, with both leaders doing the honourable thing and falling on their swords.
At school when I was young I was taught that it doesn’t matter who wins or who loses, it’s taking part that is the important thing. I never really believed that then, and I don’t believe it now. I for one am delighted once again to remain a British subject of her Majesty the Queen and not a citizen of a vast European centralised state. The referendum vote was clear: 48.1% remain and 51.9% leave.
What surprised me was the huge media coverage given to what we used to call bad losers. The great thing about democracy, deriving from the Greek demos, the rule of the people is that the UK electorate exercised its vote, and we are committed to leaving the EU. The Chancellor and the head of the Bank of England have both said that they will support our economy, the fifth biggest on the planet and the second biggest financial market in the world, as we adjust to the new reality.
In Parliament ,Members of the Lords and Commons out of touch with ordinary folk and living a tiny political bubble, overwhelmingly voted remain which is what made the result was totally unexpected by the political elite. England and Wales voted leave and as for Scotland-Its SNP socialism-on-steroids policies continue to be the order of the day as the Scottish Nationalist Party now pushes for a second in out referendum for Scotland.
In London 2.2 million people voted remain, 1.5 million, the London boroughs of Barnet and Hackney, voting to remain. Was there a specific Jewish vote in this referendum? Probably not. It was evenly split and mirrored the general population. Either way Britain’s 250,000 Jews should take note that when it comes to voting, we are a very small minority in the UK in any event. We might punch above our weight but we will always lose on a headcount.
Whether the referendum was decided on immigration versus finance we might never know. But the effect on the political elite has been seven on the Richter scale. David Cameron’s resignation was a bad thing for Jews. He was a friend of the Jews and put his money where his mouth was when it came to giving our institutions the support we need to protect ourselves; denouncing anti-Semitism specifically as a form of racism and making us feel safer in this country. He was a good friend of Israel too as evinced by his many positive comments and trips to the country.
That the new choices are encouraging for our community is vitally important, since the Conservative party is now in the process of electing the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, not just the leader of its party. Dear old Boris Johnson, he of the bad hair and grandson of Turkish immigrants, is far from the buffoon that they’d have you believe. Actually it’s a question of old wine in new bottles. Boris went to the same school as David Cameron, the same University College, the same clubs etc.
In a brilliant piece of political handling, his first reaction to the Brexit result was to tell us that what Britain needed now was a Prime Minister capable of handling our negotiations to leave Europe; he stressed it could not be someone from the remain camp thus reducing his field of rivals by 75%, and increasing his chance of getting the Boss’s job. Boris is a friend of Jews, Muslims, left-handed people and everyone he happens to be photographed with. The community loves Boris.
Both he, Home Secretary Theresa May and Michael Gove are real friends of Israel, and they’ve been politically active in condemning specifically anti-Semitism as it has been emerging over the last couple of years in the UK and instrumental in passing anti ‘Israel-boycott’ legislation. Israel friendly.
That last point alone is more than can be said of the current Labour Party leadership. Falling on the sword? Doing the honourable thing? Not a chance!
Fortunately they’re not in power, so that at this stage we are not really affected as Jews by its current leader Jeremy Corbyn. After the vote of no-confidence 172/40 there now follows a leadership election. Corbyn aligns himself with hideously Zionist and anti-Semitic associates, whose of Jews in Israel is well known. He has so bought into the new left movement, much loved by Mrs Livingstone and Galloway that he genuinely sees no difference between general racism and specific anti-Semitism. The Labour Party is now in freefall, watch this space.
So, is the decision to leave the European union good or bad for the Jews? One can never answer that question with any real definition. That we are now able to decide our own course when it comes to areas of Jewish interest is now certain; Parliament will its decide our own laws on shechitah, we can people with positive views on Israel and generally negotiate our own path without reference to Brussels
Shiduchim from Europe will indeed need visas but American and Israeli shiduchim have been doing that for years. The EU policy on shechitah is positive; but it can change at any time. These matters will now be decided at home and probably with the House of Lords as the final Court of Appeal.
Finally if you still needed convincing that the EU was probably bad for Jews, you should know this. Palestinian President Abbas who’s been in situ for 11 years and still no election in sight, delivered a speech to the European Parliament last week. He accused Israel of becoming a fascist country. Addressing the 28 European nations of the EU he told them that rabbis are urging Jews to poison the Palestinian water supply.
Well poisoning? Really? And what was the reaction of the EU’s finest when confronted with an anti-Semitic libel dating back to the European Middle Ages? They gave his speech a 30 second standing ovation, which an Israeli newspaper described as ‘highlighting the lack of moral accountability infecting EU elites ensconced in the ivory towers of their Brussels bureaucratic headquarters’.
I rest my case. Brexit's probably good for the Jews. Probably.