James Forsyth

Confusion surrounds the Tory position on the Muslim Council of Britain

Confusion surrounds the Tory position on the Muslim Council of Britain
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The government broke off relations with the Muslim Council of Britain over Daoud Abdullah, its deputy secretary-general, signing the Istanbul declaration, which the government believed encouraged attacks on British forces if they attempted to enforce a weapons blockade on Gaza. Last week, the government retreated; inviting the MCB back in despite Daoud Abdullah’s signature remaining on the document.

The question now is whether the Tories are going to go along with this surrender. The first test of this is a fundraiser that the MCB is holding on the 22nd of February. The invitation boasts that Jack Straw and Nick Clegg will be attending and says that Chris Grayling has been invited but his attendance has yet to be confirmed. Obviously, if Grayling does go it will show that the Tories agree with the government’s reversal.

I was told by a Tory source that Grayling would not be going and that word had come down from the top that no front-bencher was to go. But worryingly when I spoke to Chris Grayling’s spokesperson earlier, I was told that his appearance only wasn’t confirmed because of a diary clash.

The reasons the government broke off relations with the MCB were valid, and remain valid while Daoud Abdullah’s signature remains on the Instanbul Declaration. The Tories should take a stand on this issue and not go to this dinner on principle. To be fair, David Cameron has, to date, been sound on the non-negotiable basics of Britishness. But it will be a major disappointment if anyone on the Tory front bench does attend this dinner.

UPDATE: Grayling's office confirms that he will not be going.