A Labour MEP is facing ridicule after claiming to represent half a million Jews in the north west of England – despite there only being around 270,000 in the United Kingdom.
Julie Ward made the claim during a debate in the European Parliament entitled ‘The danger of violent right-wing extremism (in the light of the recent events in Halle, Germany).’
She said during the debate: “I represent more than 500,000 Jewish constituents in the North West of England, and I know we cannot be complacent.”
The best way to tackle antisemitism is through intercultural dialogue, education, and a zero tolerance policy regarding antisemitic acts and use of language.”
The MEP has since said it was a “straightforward administrative mistake” after the remarks were highlighted in a clip on Twitter shared by Sussex Friends of Israel (SFOI).
On Twitter, SFOI said Ward, who represents the North West of England including Merseyside and Greater Manchester, was either “ignorant about the size of our community or you simply don’t care enough to check, either one is not great”.
During a debate just now in the EU Parl. Labour MEP @julie4nw spoke about how we tackle rising Jew-hate (yes I know!)
— SussexFriendsofIsrael (@SussexFriends) October 21, 2019
According to the Board of Deputies of British Jews’ website, there are 263,346 Jews in England and Wales in the last census, while the Institute for Jewish Policy Research estimates that the actual figure is closer to 284,000.
During the debate, she offered her condolences to those affected by the synagogue attack in Germany, calling it an “appalling pre-meditated attack on the Jewish community”.
She reflected on the rise of far-right hate across Europe and said the continent must “draw on lessons of a shameful past which brought tyranny”, while adding that she was “proud of our Manchester Muslim-Jewish forum”.
Julie Ward MEP told Jewish News: “In my speech defending the Jewish community in the European Parliament on Monday October 21st I read out a figure which was given to me in error. This was a straightforward administrative mistake and I thank those who alerted me; the official Parliamentary record has been corrected.”
The Brexit Party’s Jewish MEP, Lance Forman, attempted to intervene after her address, but she rejected it, saying she wouldn’t accept requests from “people who don’t believe in this platform”.
On Twitter he responded saying: “I attempted to raise a question on her speech and she completely shut me out. What’s Labour’s problem with Jews both in U.K. and EU Parliaments?”