Cabinet Officer Minister, Rt. Hon. Matthew Hancock MP is set to make the high-profile announcement about the new proposed regulations this week during his visit to Israel.
The bill will allow the Government to prosecute universities, local government, councils, and student unions that back the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Sir Eric said: “This move is very welcome. The attempt by the irresponsible Left to demonise Israel is bad for British business, bad for the local taxpayer, and deeply damaging to community relations. It encourages anti-Semitism and strives to make a municipal foreign policy contrary to the interests of the UK”.
Condemning Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s reaction to the Cabinet Office Minister’s announcement, Sir Eric said that Labour sought “to pursue their own militant foreign policies at the expense of Britain’s economic and national security. By defending these divisive town hall boycotts, they are not only risking damage to Britain’s international relations, but weakening integration here at home and fuelling anti-Semitism”.
Following the announcement, a spokesman for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “The Government’s decision to ban councils and other public bodies from divesting from trade or divestments they regard as unethical is an attack on local democracy. The Government’s ban would have outlawed council action against apartheid South Africa. Ministers talk about devolution, but in practise they’re imposing Conservative Party policies on elected local councils.”
The plans were first announced last October ahead of Conservative Party Conference at that time, Communities and Local Government Secretary Greg Clark had said the move would be a challenge to “the politics of division”. He emphasised: “Divisive policies undermine good community relations, and harm the economic security of families by pushing up council tax. We need to challenge and prevent the politics of division. Conservatives will provide the stable, competent and sensible Government that working people want to see”.
The Government’s rule change is a response to a number of Labour-run town halls endorsing and enforcing the so-called Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel. For example, in January 2015 Labour councilors on Nottingham City Council debated a boycott against Israel and Leicester city council agreed a boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank last November. In recent years, four Scottish councils have chosen to boycott Israeli goods. The hardline, politically-motivated municipal boycotts are seen as having encouraged increasingly militant anti-Israel protests in recent years, which have included the pressuring of supermarkets to remove Kosher goods from sale.