Labour MP Criticised For Accusing Britain's Ambassdor To Israel Of Having 'Divided Loyalties' For Being Jewish
A Labour MP has found himself in hot water after he suggested Britain's ambassador to Israel may have divided loyalties because he is Jewish.
Newport West MP Paul Flynn said Matthew Gould, the Foreign Office's man in Tel Aviv, should be replaced with "someone with roots in the UK [who] can't be accused of having Jewish loyalty".
He has been summoned by chief whip Rosie Winterton, the parliamentary party's chief enforcer, to discuss the remarks. A Labour source said Ed Miliband viewed the comments as "totally unacceptable".
Flynn also suggested that the issue of loyalty should be applied to other British citizens with a "foreign" ancestry.
He said that Labour MP Denis MacShane, for example, should not be eligible to be ambassador to Poland as his father was Polish.
Speaking in the Commons this afternoon, MacShane attacked Flynn's comments and said there should be no rule that said "Jews can not serve in Israel and Catholics can not service in Catholic countries".
Sir George Young, the leader of the Commons, said the Foreign Office was an "equal opportunities employer" and it was "inconceivable they would apply any sort of prejudice to who should be our ambassador in any part of the word."
His comments have been criticised by all sides, including shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander who said the faith of any British diplomat was "irrelevant to their capability to their job" and to make suggestions otherwise was "wrong and offensive".
The Jewish Chronicle reports that Labour MP John Mann, the chair of the parliamentary antisemitism group, said he expected "that when candidates are selected for parliamentary constituencies under new boundaries that Paul Flynn will be summarily retired".
Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said there was "absolutely no reason" why Britain's ambassador to Israel should not be Jewish.
"Any allegations about Matthew Gould's conduct are utterly unsubstantiated. He is a first-class ambassador," he said.