The Justice Secretary has said he would welcome the first Royal Visit to Israel… to celebrate a permanent peace deal with the Palestinians, writes Stephen Oryszczuk.
Chris Grayling, appearing at Jewish News’ second pre-election Question and Answer session in place of scandal-hit Tory chairman Grant Shapps, also declined to answer questions on Lord Janner and child abuse.
On an evening dominated by domestic issues such as housing, Grayling invited an audience grumble when he opted to “plead the fifth”, saying that since he may be Lord Chancellor, he was unable to comment on specific cases.
However, when pressed by the chair, Sky News presenter Samantha Simmonds, that politicians – as part of the establishment – had interfered to stop prosecutions, he told the audience at JW3: “It is quite clear that in the past, some things have happened which shouldn’t have happened.”
On immigration, Grayling said: “A large proportion of this room will have family who came to this country as immigrants… Britain has benefited. But equally, there have to be limits.”
On Iran, Grayling said the situation was being monitored, but defended the international community’s decision to negotiate, saying the framework deal was better than the alternatives.
But it was Grayling’s answer to a question about whether he would like to see a Royal Visit that most captured the imagination, with the senior cabinet member saying he would “welcome a Royal Visit – to celebrate a final peace agreement with the Palestinians”.
The event was partnered by the Board of deputies, Jewish leadership Council and JW3.
The towering secretary of state twice had to defend audience accusations that the Conservative Party had employed “negative campaigning” in a campaign run by the absent Shapps.
Some disgruntled Tory supporters also claimed they had not seen enough evidence of party’s campaign literature and signs in areas of large Jewish communities.
Photo credit: Marc Morris