Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and UKIP’s Douglas Carswell sparred over shechita and Palestinian terrorism at the Jewish News and JTV’s ‘Brexodus’ EU referendum debate on Tuesday night.
Front bencher and key Cameron ally Morgan claimed that there is ‘absolutely’ a guarantee ritual slaughter will be safeguarded if Britain remains in the European Union, claiming a Conservative or any reasonable government would always block such a move. ‘A veto on shechita,’ the MP for Loughborough said, was ‘too important not to have’.
However, Carswell, UKIP’s only representative in Westminster, claimed that religious slaughter now rested in the hands of ‘faceless bureaucrats’ in Brussels.
The former Conservative MP, who stepped down in order to join UKIP and won a consequent by election in his constituency of Clacton, also claimed that the EU is responsible for backing legislation against Israel, such as the labelling of goods from the occupied West Bank. Labelling of such goods has been enshrined in European law since last year.
Nine days ahead of the UK’s referendum over whether or not it is to remain within the European Union, Morgan affirmed Remain’s view that influencing such decisions – and ‘being at the table’ – within EU was better than leaving.
Carswell, who grew up in Uganda, drew applause from the audience on several occasions; once referring to Israel’s status as ‘an awkward riposte to the idea that self-determination has had its day’; another when he recounted his memory of Operation Entebbe in 1976, when he was five years old.
On migration, he called for ‘limits’ and warned of asylum seekers in Europe arriving in Britain after becoming citizens in other EU member states.
Morgan blasted Carswell for promoting what she described as a ‘nasty’ and ‘mean spirited view’ on refugees.
The UKIP MP rejected such remarks but did not deny her suggestion that ‘even you’re better’ than party leader Nigel Farage when it comes to migration – the two Brexiteers have a notoriously fractious relationship and are reported not to be in regular dialogue.
Only last week Boris Johnson and Michael Gove made a major joint speech at Forman’s Fish Island, near the Olympic Stadium, where Brexodus’ was held.
At yesterday’s debate, Carswell drew emphatic support from an audience pro-Brexit from the off – although he stumbled on what Britain’s economy would look like outside of the EU.
Morgan said that he had ‘no answer’ to what the terms of trade would be with Britain outside the EU.
He claimed there was an ‘honourable and honest’ case for remaining the EU but that Morgan, who generally demonstrated less command of Israeli and Jewish affairs, had not made it.
Both contestants accused the other side of scaremongering in what was primarily a re-run of Remain and Brexit’s key debates ahead of the referendum next week.
Morgan and Carswell similarly both invoked their children’s future in their concluding remarks.
On Wednesday The Times reported that Britain was on course for Brexit after a YouGov survey it commissioned recorded a seven point lead.
A Guardian survey earlier in the week predicted a similar result, albeit by a slimmer margin.