British Chancellor Sajid Javid helped raise thousands of pounds at the Jewish Care business breakfast on Friday, after he offered to auction a 50p coin – co-signed by himself and prime minister Boris Johnson.
One guest pledged £10,000 for the historic 2020 coin that marks Britain’s Withdrawal from the European Union and is inscribed with the message: “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations.”
The event at Mansion House in central London, Jewish Care’s 93rd business breakfast, raised more than £70,00 for the social care charity.
Speaking at the event in conversation with former BBC News director James Harding, Mr Javid reflected on Britain’s “unbreakable” relationship with Israel, his admiration of the UK’s Jewish community and what he hopes to be remembered for as Chancellor.
Mr Javid – who also spent his honeymoon in Israel – recalled visiting the Western Wall during an official visit to the Jewish State in July 2019, during his tenure as Home Secretary.
He recalled: “I wanted to make sure that when I went, I visited the holy sites.”
He said government advisors were happy to arrange visits to Al Aqsa mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – but not the Kotel, over “long-standing policy”.
But Mr Javid insisted on going to the historic Jewish site – and was the first British Minister in 19 years to go to the Western Wall. “It was a moving experience,” he said, adding: “For me, personally it was very important; but also for the UK to show its support and friendship with Israel.”
He described the relationship between the two countries as: “Unbreakable; a pact of steel”.
Reflecting on Britain’s commitment to leave the European Union, he said: “I am really pleased we got Brexit behind us… there are plenty of countries around the world that have their own rules and have done incredible well.”
He said the Tory government was committed to maintaining “close trading relationships with our European friends” but also “open to new markets” – including China, India and Brazil.
Asked what he hoped to be remembered for as Chancellor, Mr Javid highlighted his commitment to opening up opportunities and boosting the UK’s infrastructure.
He said the inequality of opportunities in London compared to areas in the North East were “unacceptable”.
Emphasising that university was not the only route to access, Mr Javid spoke of training programmes and apprenticeships, adding: “We have talent everywhere we go, but we need to spread more opportunity… we are going to invest more in opportunity.”
He added: “University is not the only way to success.”
Mr Javid went onto praise communal organisations like Jewish Care and antisemitism watchdog, the Community Security Trust.
“One thing that distinguishes the Jewish community is the way you look after each other in so many ways, like Jewish Care and the CST.”
He added: “It could teach many other communities about how much they can do for each other.”
Speaking at the event, businessman and philanthropist Jeremy Coller reminded more than 200 guests of climate change issues as they enjoyed a vegan breakfast catered by Tony Page. He also hailed Mr Javid as a “politician with a track record of success”.
Lord Howard Leigh, Chairman of Jewish Care’s Business Breakfast Committee said: “The Business Breakfast Committee are extremely proud to have helped raise essential funds today, which will go towards Jewish Care’s vital services including residential care homes, community centres, dementia day care centres, independent living facilities, disability services, Holocaust survivor services and more.”
Daniel Carmel-Brown, Chief Executive, Jewish Care said: “We were thrilled to host Sajid Javid as our guest speaker, and together with James Harding, they gave a fascinating insight in to Britain post Brexit and the Chancellor’s priorities moving forward. We are grateful that they were able to join us. Jewish Care relies on the generosity of its donors, and the funds raised today will make a huge difference to our community centres, care homes and services.”