(JNS.org) The U.K.’s Conservative party, which has strongly supported Israel and is backed by the overwhelming majority of British Jews, suffered a setback in parliamentary elections Thursday, as Prime Minister Theresa Mary failed to strengthen her governing position.
With nearly all the results in, the Conservative party won 318 seats in the U.K. Parliament, eight short of the necessary 326 to form a governing coalition and 12 fewer than the party garnered in the 2015 British election. At the same time, the left-wing Labour party gained 29 seats for a total of 261. Labour has been dogged by anti-Semitism within its ranks in recent years, while party leader Jeremy Corbyn has a history of anti-Israel rhetoric, including his description of the Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups as “friends.”
While Corbyn said May “should go and make way for a government that is truly representative of this country,” the prime minister dismissed calls to step down and plans to form a governing coalition with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which won 10 seats and would put May’s coalition at 328 seats, just two above what is needed to form a government.
Pre-election polling by London’s Jewish Chronicle said 77 percent of British Jews supported the Conservative party, compared to only 13 percent for Labour.
“If the governing party, which is a strong supporter of Israel, loses so much ground, then of course it has to be something of a loss for Israel and the Jewish community,” Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews umbrella group, told The Times of Israel.