Jewish And Muslim Groups Have Condemned A Tory MP For Attending A Conference With Far-Right Politicians In Italy
The Board of Deputies of British Jews said: "If the Conservative Party fails to discipline Mr Kawczynski, it runs the serious risk of the public assuming that they share his views on association with such people.”
Jewish groups have called on the Conservative party to suspend one of its MPs after he attended a nationalist conference in Rome alongside far-right politicians from across Europe.
BuzzFeed News revealed on Wednesday that Daniel Kawczynski would be speaking alongside far-right leaders, such as Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy's Lega party, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, and Marion Maréchal of France's National Rally (formerly known as the National Front).
He defended his decision to attend, writing in a letter to his local newspaper that his critics were "hysterical".
Salvini and Orbán "represent serious ideas and concerns, some of which are shared by many citizens of the UK", Kawczynski said.
A video was posted on Twitter of Kawczynski speaking onstage at the conference's opening dinner on Monday night.
Also billed to speak at the National Conservatism conference are Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, and the Spanish MEP Hermann Tertsch of Vox, a far-right party.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews — the main representative body of Jewish people in Britain — called on the Conservative party to take disciplinary action.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies, said: “We condemn the decision by Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski to speak at a conference alongside some of Europe’s most notorious far-right politicians.
"Mr Kawczynski’s defence, that ‘it is only common sense to talk with parties and politicians that are either leading their respective countries, or will perhaps take power in the next few years’, is a specious one, for the simple reason that the MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham is not any sort of government representative.
"If the Conservative Party fails to discipline Mr Kawczynski, it runs the serious risk of the public assuming that they share his views on association with such people.”
The Jewish Labour Movement called on the Tories to remove the whip. Labour MPs Margaret Hodge and Alex Sobel wrote a letter to government chief whip Mark Spencer, warning: “If Daniel Kawcyznski attends this conference then he must have the whip removed. There can be no place for these hateful views in our parliament.”
Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy branded Kawczynski "a disgrace".
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: "The polarisation of politics on the continent means that parties with hard right and hard left views are now part of the mainstream, as happened in the UK with the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. It is important that the Conservative Party not be enticed by such views and those who espouse them."
The Muslim Council of Britain said: "It is unacceptable that anyone holding the position of MP speaks at a nationalist conference alongside Islamophobes and anti-Semites. It is even more disturbing that the Conservative chief whip appears to have known that Daniel Kawcyznski MP was going to speak at a nationalist conference alongside far-right, racist politicians, and yet chose to take no action.
"This demonstrates an active tolerance for those supporting the far-right in the party, and highlights how the 'zero tolerance' approach to racism can only be seen as electioneering."
The Conservative party and the Government Whips' Office have been approached for comment.