Foreign Secretary and PM hopeful Jeremy Hunt has said Britain must sort out its “Brexit balagan” before it can move ahead on other fronts.
Speaking at Finchley United Synagogue this morning to a crowd of around 150 congregants and members of the Conservative Party, the MP spoke a few words of Hebrew, including the greeting boker tov.
“I want to talk about all the things I want to change in our wonderful country and we can’t do any of those until we sort out Brexit balagan,” he added, prompting a round of applause.
Introducing his “amazing” Jewish adviser Rebecca Besalel to the audience, he asked for a round of applause in her honour, claiming she is “a tremendous advocate to the Jewish community.”
“She’s also single, so that’s a job for you to do,” he quipped, prompting applause and laughter.
Meanwhile, to boost the economy, Hunt said he would draw “inspiration from Bibi”, after meeting Israel’s Prime Minister in February in Warsaw.
“Before he arrived, he said, it was like North Korea in Israel, in the sense that all the technology was millitary and he opened it up and he has made Israel an absolute beacon of the tech industry,” Hunt said.
While admitting he does not “agree with everything Israel does”, he described the Jewish state as a beacon for democracy. “When I see these stories about all the bribery allegations in the run up to the Israeli election, I think that is because Israel is a democracy,” he said.
Hunt spoke without notes for approximately 10 minutes, before taking questions from the audience for half an hour on topics ranging from Brexit to budget cuts.
When asked whether he would commit to a robust investigation into claims of Islamophobia in the party, he replied that he backed an independent inquiry. “We led the charge in calling out antisemitism in the Labour Party, so we have to be purer than pure in terms of all prejudice and discrimination in our own party,” he added.
When asked how he would respond to Iran’s breaches of the 2015 nuclear agreement following Boris Johnson’s comments to JN on the subject, he replied the long term solution was for Iran to stop its “destabilising activity across the region.”
“I do think the Iran Nuclear Deal was the right deal because four years ago they were 18 months away from having a nuclear weapon,” he added.
“I think the Middle East is safer for the fact that they don’t have a nuclear weapon but if they don’t abide by the agreement, then there is no agreement,” he said, adding that he would make a decision once he obtains independent verification from the UN’s nuclear watchdog.