Today’s coup at Westminster: in whose interests?

Dr Julian Lewis

An unprecedented coup at Westminster today saw the blocking of the government’s preferred candidate to chair the super-sensitive Intelligence and Security Committee.

Former minister Chris Grayling was known to be the Prime Minister’s choice, but one Conservative MP on the committee – Dr Julian Lewis – broke ranks, voting alongside Labour and SNP members to instal himself as chairman.

He was immediately expelled from the Conservative parliamentary party for this conspiracy, having “worked with Labour and other opposition MPs for his own advantage.”

The Intelligence and Security Committee scrutinises MI5, MI6, GCHQ and other intelligence and security agencies. It was formed in 1994 as part of a series of reforms, which included the partial opening of historical documents relating to such matters.

While in one sense it is laudable for such a committee to assert its independence from government, Dr Lewis’s appointment might raise eyebrows in some quarters.

H&D readers might remember Dr Lewis best for his public resignation as a life member of the Oxford Union in November 2007, in protest at the Union’s invitation to historian David Irving and then BNP leader Nick Griffin.

In 2017 under the headline “Influential MPs to look out for”, the Jewish Chronicle analysed appointments to Westminster committees in terms of whether they were good news for “supporters of Israel”, highlighting Dr Lewis’s success in becoming chairman of the Commons Defence Committee.

Similarly in 2010 the Jewish Chronicle listed Dr Lewis’s re-election under the sub-heading “pro-Israel wins seal a good day”.

In February this year, Dr Lewis hosted a meeting at Westminster for the hardline Zionist Henry Jackson Society.

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