Conservative Friends of Israel, abbreviated to CFI, is a British parliamentary group affiliated to the Conservative Party, which is dedicated to strengthening business, cultural and political ties between the United Kingdom and Israel. CFI is an unincorporated association.
According to the Channel 4 documentary Dispatches – Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby, around 80% of Conservative MPs are members of the CFI. In 1995 Conservative politician Robert Rhodes James called it “the largest organisation in Western Europe dedicated to the cause of the people of Israel”.
In 2007 the Political Director stated it had over 2000 members and registered supporters. In 2009, at least half of the shadow cabinet were members of the group according to a Dispatches documentary. Its membership includes:
David Cameron, Iain Duncan-Smith, Liam Fox, William Hague and Malcolm Rifkind.
David Cameron, then newly elected leader of the Conservative Party, addressed the CFI annual business lunch on 30 January 2006, whose audience included half of the Conservative Parliamentary Party. As part of his speech, he stated “I am proud not just to be a Conservative, but a Conservative friend of Israel ..”
The Dispatches documentary claimed members of the group and their companies have donated over £10 million to the Conservative party between 2001 and 2009. Dispatches described the CFI as “beyond doubt the most well-connected and probably the best funded of all Westminster lobbying groups”.
‘In 2010 the Conservative Foreign Secretary, William Hague, changed the law of ‘universal jurisdiction’ under pressure from the Israeli government to allow the war crimes arrest law to be amended specifically to facilitate the free entry to Britain of Israeli politicians and military personnel.’
‘In 2011 Defence Secretary Liam Fox resigned after a week of pressure over his working relationship with friend and self-styled adviser Adam Werritty. Mr Fox was being investigated amid claims he broke the ministerial code.In a letter to David Cameron, Mr Fox said he had “mistakenly allowed” personal and professional responsibilities to be “blurred”. Mr Cameron said he was very sorry to see him go. The defence secretary has been under pressure since it emerged that Mr Werritty, a lobbyist, had met him on 18 foreign trips despite having no official role. Mr Werritty, a former flatmate of Mr Fox and the best man at his wedding, handed out business cards suggesting he was his adviser and was present at meetings Mr Fox had with military figures, diplomats and defence contractors.’
‘In February 2015 former Secretary for Defence, Malcolm Rifkind claimed to have no salary and to be self-employed when discussing with what he thought were representatives of a Chinese company that wanted to buy influence in the UK parliament. Rifkind offered to get them access to British ambassadors for £5,000 to £8,000 per half day’s work. The people turned out to be journalists for The Daily Telegraph and Channel 4 News who recorded the conversations. As a result Rifkind was suspended from the party while the matter was investigated.
On 24 February 2015 Rifkind resigned his position as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. Shortly afterwards he announced that he would not run as a candidate for his constituency of Kensington at the 2015 General Election. Rifkind admitted he “may have made errors of judgement” but insisted he had done nothing wrong in the cash-for access controversy. The former foreign secretary said it was “quite obvious” that allegations made following an undercover sting had “become an issue”. Rifkind said he had stepped aside as chair of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee because he did not want the work of the committee to be “distracted”.
‘Government Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith is said to regard governing with George Osborne and David Cameron as being like finding television presenters Ant and Dec running the country .. ‘
***Note: all the above quotations are unedited excerpts from published public domain information