Thatcher Appoints Ousted Jewish Politician to European Commission
Menu JTA Search

Thatcher Appoints Ousted Jewish Politician to European Commission

Download PDF for this date

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has appointed a favorite Jewish politician of hers, Leon Brittan, to be one of two British members of the European Commission, the governing body of the 12-nation European Community headquartered in Brussels.

In so doing, she may be ending the political career of Brittan, a former minister of trade and industry in the Thatcher Cabinet. European commissioners may not sit as members of Parliament.

But Thatcher is rehabilitating the 49-year-old Brittan, who resigned ignominiously three years ago at the height of the so-called Westland helicopter scandal.

He quit, moreover, amid anti-Semitic jibes from Conservative Party backbenchers and important sections of the national press. Those outbursts were believed prompted by uneasiness over the significant number of Jews whom Thatcher has appointed to high Cabinet office.

Brittan will replace Lord Cockfield, 71, another former Conservative minister, on the commission. He apparently has become too enthusiastic about European integration for Thatcher’s liking.

She is also not renewing the four-year appointment of another commissioner, Stanley Clinton Davis, a former Labor member of Parliament who is Jewish.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund