Prime Minister Boris Johnson underlined in yesterday’s Queen’s Speech debate that the Government will stop public bodies from developing their “own pseudo foreign policy against countries” and stop them from boycotting Israeli goods.
Prime Minister Johnson said in the House of Commons: “When it comes to standing by our friends, whether in Northern Ireland or elsewhere, one innovation that this Queen’s Speech introduces Mr Speaker is that we will stop public bodies from taking it upon themselves to boycott goods from other countries to develop their own pseudo foreign policies against countries which with nauseating frequency turns out to be Israel”.
The Government have said that the new law “will stop public institutions from imposing their own approach or views about international relations, through preventing boycotts, divestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries and those who trade with them”.
The statement added: “This will create a coherent approach to foreign relations from all public institutions, by ensuring that they do not go beyond the UK Government’s settled policy towards a foreign country”.
The Government said that the main benefits of the new law would be that it ensures that “the UK taxpayer only has to pay for foreign policy once. Public institutions should not be pursuing their own foreign policy agenda with public money”.
It will also “prevent divisive behaviour that undermines community cohesion. There are concerns that such boycotts have legitimised antisemitism, such as Jewish films being censored and Jewish university societies being threatened with bans”.
It will apply to institutions across the public sector, not just councils, where there have been issues of bodies using public resource to carry out boycotts, pursuing their own agenda beyond UK sanctions.
The measures will cover purchasing, procurement and investment decisions which undermine cohesion and integration.
It follows the Conservative Party Manifesto Pledge to “ban public bodies from imposing their own direct or indirect boycotts, disinvestment or sanctions campaigns against foreign countries. These undermine community cohesion”.