"A mission bigger than politics", House of Commons debates antisemitism

20 February 2019

On Wednesday 20 February, MPs held a general debate on antisemitism in modern society in the House of Commons. Members from across the House shared personal stories of encountering antisemitism, and called on their colleagues to continue to end systematic discrimination.

James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, opened the debate. He said,

"This is a mission bigger than politics—bigger than any party—and it is in that spirit that I urge all hon. Members to be standard-bearers for these values: values that are our best hope of ensuring that when we say, “Never again” we mean it."

Some MPs were visibly emotional as they recounted their personal experiences, and those of constituents. Ruth Smeeth condemned ongoing antisemitism within politics, saying

 "I am sick and tired, and my heart is breaking a little more every day, because of what I have to experience and what I have to read."

MPs called on colleagues to continue to challenge and end antisemitism, and for continued work to ensure that the issue was understood and visible.

Andrew Percy called for education to go further in tackling the issue, saying that,

"When we teach holocaust education, we of course teach the history of antisemitism in Europe as part of it, but I fear that the teaching of the holocaust in isolation could leave pupils with the impression that that was the end of it."

Transcripts of proceedings in the House of Commons Chamber are available in Hansard online three hours after they happen.

What is a general debate?

General debates give MPs an opportunity to discuss a topic - chosen by the Government - in the Chamber of the House of Commons. Members take it in turns to speak and there are rules and conventions that are followed.

Follow the @HouseofCommons on Twitter for updates on the UK House of Commons Chamber.

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