Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Bill

In The Queen’s Speech on Tuesday 10th May, the government introduced the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Bill.  This legislation would limit decisions around investments relating to climate change concerns, arms and human rights issues including the occupation of Palestine in a fundamentally un-democratic move.  The government has provided this information below;


Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions Bill
“Legislation will prevent public bodies engaging in boycotts that undermine
community cohesion.”
The purpose of the Bill is to:
● Deliver the manifesto commitment to stop public bodies from adopting their own
approach to international relations.
The main benefits of the Bill would be:
● Ensuring the UK’s foreign policy determines how our country interacts with other
nations, which includes imposing sanctions where necessary.
● Stopping public bodies pursuing their own foreign policy agenda with public
● Preventing divisive behaviour that undermines community cohesion across the
country by stopping public bodies from imposing their own boycott, divestment or
sanctions campaigns. There are concerns that such boycotts may legitimise and
drive antisemitism as these types of campaigns overwhelmingly target Israel.
Such campaigns result in undue politicisation of public institutions.
The main elements of the Bill are:
● Empowering Government to ban public bodies that are already subject to public
procurement rules from conducting their own boycott campaigns against foreign
countries or territories. This would be applicable where these are inconsistent
with official UK foreign policy as set by Her Majesty’s Government.
● Stopping public bodies from taking a different approach to the UK Government
on sanctions and foreign relations. This includes preventing public institutions
carrying out independent boycotts, divestments and sanctions against:
o foreign countries and/or territories, or those linked to them;
o the sale of goods and services from foreign countries or territories; and
o UK firms which trade with such countries or territories, where such an
approach is not in line with UK Government sanctions.
● Ensuring that public bodies conduct procurement and investment activities in line
with official government measures on both policy and sanctions.

Territorial extent and application
● The Bill will extend and apply across the UK.
Key facts
● It is a long-standing principle that there may be restrictions on taxpayer-funded
public bodies that do not apply to private bodies; for example, public bodies
cannot engage in party political campaigning.
● It is not acceptable that public bodies carry out campaigns where attempts are
made to declare policies for boycotts, divestment or sanctions at variance with
Government policy. We have seen motions passed by Lancaster City Council in
support of such campaigns in June 2021 and Leicester City Council to boycott
goods from Israeli settlements in 2014.
● The Government has zero tolerance for discrimination. Such campaigns are not
in line with government policy and pit communities against each other,
undermining community cohesion. Jewish groups have repeatedly challenged
public bodies, including in the courts, that have called for or attempted boycotts,
divestment and sanctions campaigns.
● Unofficial boycotts have gone beyond those directed at a particular state and
contribute to the horrific rise in antisemitism in the UK – including Kosher food
being removed from supermarket shelves, Jewish films being banned from a film
festival and a student union holding a vote on blocking the formation of a Jewish
student society.
● Sanctions policy should be determined by the UK Government. The UK already
has a legal framework in the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 to
impose, update and lift sanctions autonomously.

Sabeel-Kairos is the operating name of Friends of Sabeel UK (FOSUK) Ltd, Charity number 1116817, Company Number 5595112

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