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Suella Braverman accuses Met of ‘double standards’ over pro-Palestinian protests | Politics News

today09/11/2023

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Suella Braverman has accused the police of “double standards” in the way they handle protests – after Rishi Sunak conceded that a pro-Palestine march on Armistice Day will go ahead.

The home secretary has sharply criticised the Metropolitan Police in an op-ed for The Times newspaper – saying there is “a perception that senior police officers play favourites when it comes to protesters”.

It comes after Mr Sunak described Saturday’s planned march in London as “disrespectful”.

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The prime minister met the chief of the Metropolitan Police on Wednesday afternoon – and had vowed to hold Sir Mark Rowley “accountable” for his decision to greenlight the demonstration.

Sir Mark had resisted calls to try and block a march taking place – and said that, after looking at intelligence, the legal threshold for a ban had not been met.

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The Prime Minister says he’ll hold the Met Police chief ‘accountable’ over a planned protest on Armistice Day

Ms Braverman once again described pro-Palestinian protesters as “hate marchers” – writing that it is “a phrase I do not resile from”.

That is despite numerous government ministers saying they would not use such language.

She wrote that the marches are “problematic, not just because of violence around the fringes but because of the highly offensive content of chants, posters and stickers”.

She added: “This is not a time for naiveté. We have seen with our own eyes that terrorists have been valorised, Israel has been demonised as Nazis and Jews have been threatened with further massacres.”

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The Home Secretary Suella Braverman has criticised pro-Palestinian protests in London

Ms Braverman went on to say that the “heart of the matter” is that she does not “believe that these marches are merely a cry for help for Gaza” but “an assertion of primacy by certain groups – particularly Islamists – of the kind we are more used to seeing in Northern Ireland”.

“Also disturbingly reminiscent of Ulster are the reports that some of Saturday’s march group organisers have links to terrorist groups, including Hamas,” she added.

Claiming that a double standard exists within the Met, she asked: “Right-wing and nationalist protesters who engage in aggression are rightly met with a stern response yet pro-Palestinian mobs displaying almost identical behaviour are largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law?”

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Pensions minister Laura Trott distances herself from Braverman’s comments

Calling for protests to be policed “even-handedly”, the home secretary also questioned why protests for Black Lives Matter were allowed to go ahead during the COVID pandemic, while “lockdown objectors were given no quarter by public order police”.

In words seeming to pile pressure onto Sir Mark Rowley, she concluded: “This weekend the public will expect to see an assertive and proactive approach to any displays of hate, breaches of conditions and general disorder.”

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In response to Ms Braverman’s article, Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, described her as “out of control”

She wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Her article tonight is a highly irresponsible, dangerous attempt to undermine respect for police at a sensitive time, to rip up operational independence and to inflame community tensions.

“No other home secretary of any party would ever do this.”

And London Mayor Sadiq Khan posted: “The Home Sec’s article in The Times is inaccurate, inflammatory & irresponsible.

“At a time when we should be seeking to unite communities – she is dividing them. The Home Sec should support the police to keep everyone safe at this delicate time, not make their job harder.”

And the Liberal Democrats have accused her of “running a Conservative Party leadership campaign, not the Home Office”.

Tory govt source on Braverman’s comparison of “hate marches” by pro-Palestinian protesters to sectarian rallies held in NI during Troubles

A senior Tory government source, commenting on Ms Braverman’s comparison of “hate marches” by pro-Palestinian protesters to sectarian rallies held in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, told Sky’s Beth Rigby: “This is wholly offensive and ignorant of where people in Northern Ireland stand on the issues of Israel and Gaza.

“It would be good to know what she knows about what NI people think about the current Israel-Palestine situation before she casts aspersions.

“It’s clear that the Home Secretary is only looking after her misguided aspirations for leader than responsible leadership as a Home Sec.”

Sunak labels pro-Palestine march ‘disrespectful’

In a statement following a meeting with Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley, the prime minister conceded that the protest this weekend will go ahead.

He said in a statement: “Saturday’s planned protest is not just disrespectful but offends our heartfelt gratitude to the memory of those who gave so much so that we may live in freedom and peace today.

“But part of that freedom is the right to peacefully protest. And the test of that freedom is whether our commitment to it can survive the discomfort and frustration of those who seek to use it, even if we disagree with them. We will meet that test and remain true to our principles.”

He added: “It’s welcome that the police have confirmed that the march will be away from the Cenotaph and they will ensure that the timings do not conflict with any remembrance events.

“There remains the risk of those who seek to divide society using this weekend as a platform to do so. That is what I discussed with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner in our meeting.”

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The Prime Minister ‘politicking’ over pro-Palestine protest says Ben Jamal.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer had accused Mr Sunak of “cowardice” for “picking a fight” with the police.

He tweeted: “Remembrance events must be respected. Full stop.

“But the person the PM needs to hold accountable is his home secretary. Picking a fight with the police instead of working with them is cowardice.”

Downing Street denied seeking to put pressure on the Met, which is operationally independent, and insisted the meeting was about “seeking assurances” that their approach is “robust”.

The Met has said its officers were already preparing for remembrance events over the weekend and “we will do everything in our power to ensure that people who want to mark the occasion can do so safely and without disruption.”

Organisers say protest will be ‘well away’ from Cenotaph

The route marchers plan to take on Armistice Day.
Image:
The route marchers plan to take on Armistice Day.

Tens of thousands have demonstrated in London in recent weeks over Palestinian deaths in the Israel-Hamas war with 29 arrested during a fourth week of protests last Saturday, during which fireworks were thrown.

Organisers of this Saturday’s protest say it will be “well away” from the Cenotaph – going from Hyde Park, around a mile from the war memorial in Whitehall, to the US embassy – and won’t start until after the 11am silence.

Several cabinet ministers have spoken out about the situation, with Health Secretary Steve Barclay telling Sky News that 11 November was the “wrong day” for protest action in London.

He said: “There is a legal threshold and the commissioner is of the view that that legal threshold has not been met.

“Obviously, the Home Office and colleagues will discuss that over the course of the day.”



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