Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 August 2020

British-Palestinian MP in running for leadership of UK’s Liberal Democrat party

Lib-Dems were crushed in last year’s general election that saw the anti-Brexit party’s leader lose her seat

Layla Moran (R) with former Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson. Getty Images.
Layla Moran (R) with former Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson. Getty Images.

A British-Palestinian MP and staunch opponent of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan is running for the leadership of one of Britain’s main political parties after its dismal showing in the 2019 general election.

Layla Moran, born to a British diplomat father and Palestinian mother from Jerusalem, is one of two candidates to lead the Liberal Democrats, the fourth largest party in the UK Parliament.

Ms Moran, 37, a former maths and physics teacher, was elected to the UK’s lower house for the first time in 2017, becoming the first MP of Palestinian descent.

Her great-grandfather, Wasif Jawhariyyeh, was a musician, poet and chronicler of life in Jerusalem under Ottoman and British rule before fleeing when the state of Israel was created.

He died before Ms Moran was born.

“My Palestinian background has made me interested at a global level,” she told The New Arab in 2017.

“Politics was always at the dinner table. It primed me to engage.

“De facto, I will be a representative of our community in Parliament and it will be a great honour, which I take humbly.”

Ms Moran condemned Mr Trump’s Middle East peace plan, which was announced in January, as a “scam” and an “insult”.

“The minister wonders why those of us with Palestinian family, but also anyone else who believes in the international rules-based order, are suggesting that our government should reject it,” she told the UK Parliament.

“The Palestinians were not consulted during its wide gestation. This is not the best for us. We should reject it outright.

“This plan is not the basis for a viable two-state solution.

"Does the minister therefore accept that these are baby steps, to use his words, towards an apartheid system that we should reject outright?”

The UK’s former Middle East minister Dr Andrew Murrison, said she needed to be “a little careful with her language”.

She has said that former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy was her inspiration.

Mr Kennedy, who died in 2015, led the party to its greatest electoral success in 2005.

He also led the political opposition to Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War under prime minister Tony Blair.

The party’s fortunes have since slumped significantly and it holds just 11 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons after last year’s election.

An internal party inquiry described the campaign as a “high-speed car crash” after it unrealistically promoted its anti-Brexit leader, Jo Swinson, as the UK’s possible next prime minister. She lost her seat.

Ms Moran received fewer nominations than her rival, veteran MP Ed Davey, to lead the party but the pair now begin online debates.

The winner of a ballot of party members is expected to be announced on August 27.

Updated: July 14, 2020 04:02 AM

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