Government to ban local councils from boycott participation
The government has announced a plan to prevent politically motivated boycotts by local authorities
On the 3rd October the government announced a plan to stop local councils from choosing goods or pension plans or on the basis of “politically motivated boycotts and divestment campaigns.”
According to the government's press release, the measures are aimed at councils who have been boycotting Israeli goods and those that have been deciding to divest their funds from arms companies. It mentions Leicester City Council's recent decision to boycott goods from Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and a campaign by what it calls “The hard-left Campaign Against the Arms Trade” which has apparently been “lobbying for Local Government Pension Schemes to divest funds in British manufacturers such as BAe” [British Aerospace].
If the plan goes ahead, it will mean that local councils will only be able to engage in boycotts if the national government has imposed “formal legal sanctions”.
Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights have called on the government to clarify their statement, as it conflates boycotts of Israel proper and those, such as Leicester City Council's decision, that specifically relate to Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's current guidance to UK businesses is that they shouldn't engage with the settlements, which are illegal in International law.
Find out more about the boycott against Israel.