Britain’s new Home Secretary Priti Patel has met Jewish communal representatives, telling them that she would “stand up to the threat of antisemitism”.
Patel, who was appointed to the senior cabinet position, met senior figures from the Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and the Community Security Trust (CST), to discuss topics including tackling antisemitism, countering extremism and safeguarding Jewish interests in the context of Brexit.
In 2017, Patel was forced to resign as International Development Secretary under Theresa May after it was revealed that she had met with Israeli politicians while on a private holiday to Israel and had neglected to tell the Foreign Office about the meetings.
Following the meeting, Ms Patel described being “delighted” to have met the UK Jewish representatives and said she “looked forward to working with them to stand up to the threat of antisemitism, and ensure the security and safety of Jewish communities.”
In a joint statement, Board President Marie van der Zyl, Gerald Ronson, chair of CST and Debra Fox, vice chair of the JLC, said they were “very pleased to hear of the Home Secretary’s strong commitment to tackling antisemitism and extremism and her willingness to work with us to eliminate the potential challenges posed by Brexit.”
“We very much look forward to working with her on our shared objectives of making the UK safer and more secure for Jews and every part of our society.”
During the meeting the Home Secretary said she was pleased the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah was now proscribed in full in the UK.
She said this sent out the right message about the Government’s approach to terrorism but added she felt the move, which came after years of demands from the Jewish community, had taken too long to achieve.
Mrs van der Zyl raised a series concerns about the impact of Brexit with Ms Patel, who has been one of the most outspoken supporters in parliament of the UK’s exit from the European Union.
The Board President said she spoke for many Jewish families when she described how her grandfather came to Britain on the Kindertransport. She expressed continued support for the right of asylum seekers and refugees to come to the UK.
Van der Zyl also expressed concern that care was needed around the tone of language in the public debate around immigration.
The Home Secretary suggested that the introduction of a points based system in the UK could resolve some of these issues and reassure the public that those entering the country possessed valuable skills.