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Ex-minister faces probe after being accused of using ‘antisemitic tropes’

A former Conservative minister is being investigated by his party over comments accusing two Tory peers of “exercising the interests of another country”.

Sir Alan Duncan, who served as a Foreign Office minister under Theresa May, claimed in an interview with LBC that the Conservative Friends of Israel group was “doing the bidding of Netanyahu” and called for two of its prominent members, Lord Polak and Lord Pickles, to be “removed from the House of Lords”.

He said: “I think the time has come to flush out those extremists in our own parliamentary politics and around it.”

His comments brought condemnation from the Jewish Leadership Council and the Campaign Against Antisemitism, which both accused Sir Alan of using “antisemitic tropes”.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism said it was “not the first time that he has made accusations of parliamentarians being controlled by Israel” and called for him to be expelled from the party.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews echoed those calls, saying: “The comments by Sir Alan Duncan effectively accuse two Conservative peers, one of whom is Jewish, of dual loyalties.

“This is disgraceful; we understand the Conservatives have opened an investigation into Sir Alan’s conduct and we believe the party should consider whether his position as a party member is tenable.”

Lord Polak, who is Jewish, served as director of the Conservative Friends of Israel for 26 years and is now its honorary president while Lord Pickles chairs the group in the Lords and is also the UK special envoy for post-Holocaust issues.

It is understood the Conservatives have launched a disciplinary investigation into Sir Alan, which could take a number of weeks to conclude and could result in his expulsion from the party.

In his interview, Sir Alan also accused several ministers and former ministers of not supporting international law by failing to condemn illegal settlements, including security minister Tom Tugendhat, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, Communities Secretary Michael Gove and former home secretary Suella Braverman.

In a subsequent interview with Times Radio, he said: “I think we’re entitled to call them extremists. They should be called out.”