Home secretary's attack on Met over protests 'not cleared' by Number 10

Suella Braverman has the Prime Minister's full support despite her remarks not being signed off, a Downing Street spokesperson said.

Home secretary’s attack on Met over protests ‘not cleared’ by Number 10 Getty Images

The home secretary’s opinion piece attacking the Metropolitan Police was “not cleared” with the Prime Minister, Number 10 has said.

However, Downing Street said Rishi Sunak has “full confidence” in Suella Braverman, despite her criticism of the Met’s handling of protests.

A Number 10 spokesman told journalists that Braverman still had the Prime Minister’s support after she wrote that the UK’s largest force “plays favourites” in how it polices marches.

But the spokesman said the piece was “not cleared” with the Prime Minister, and did not say when asked whether Sunak agreed with the home secretary.

Braverman accused police of “double standards” and “playing favourites” with protesters as a pro-Palestinian march on Armistice Day appeared set to go ahead despite Government objections.

Braverman claimed that “pro-Palestinian mobs” are “largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law”.

Sunak hauled in Metropolitan Police chief Sir Mark Rowley for an emergency meeting about the march planned in London, saying he would hold the Scotland Yard boss “accountable” if there was trouble.

Sir Mark has faced pressure from senior Tories to ban Saturday’s march in London, but has said the law would only allow him to do so only in “extreme cases”.

Following their talks on Wednesday, Sunak said the planned protest on Armistice Day 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” and “part of that freedom is the right to peacefully protest”.

Sir Tom Winsor, a former HM chief inspector of constabulary, has said Braverman’s comments about a pro-Palestinian march on Armistice Day are “unusual”, “unprecedented” and crossed the line.

Writing in The Times, Braverman said: “I do not believe that these marches are merely a cry for help for Gaza.

“They are 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.”

Braverman claimed “there is a perception that senior police officers play favourites when it comes to protesters”.

She said: “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?

“I have spoken to serving and former police officers who have noted this double standard.

“Football fans are even more vocal about the tough way they are policed as compared to politically connected minority groups favoured by the left.

“It may be that senior officers are more concerned with how much flak they are likely to get than whether this perceived unfairness alienates the majority. The Government has a duty to take a broader view.”

Braverman’s article is her latest high-profile intervention, with ministers in recent days seeking to distance themselves from some of her comments.

She has described the protests as “hate marches” and also claimed some people were homeless as a “lifestyle choice”.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “Suella Braverman is out of control.”

Writing on social media, she said Braverman’s article “is a highly irresponsible, dangerous attempt to undermine respect for police at a sensitive time, to rip up operational independence & to inflame community tensions”.

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

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Braverman’s words were “inaccurate, inflammatory and irresponsible”.

The planned route for the London march goes from Hyde Park – about a mile from the war memorial in Whitehall – to the US embassy in Vauxhall, south of the Thames.

The Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, which will be attended by the King and Queen and other members of the royal family, will take place on Saturday.

Remembrance Sunday events will take place at the Cenotaph in Westminster the following day.

In an indication of the challenges faced by police, the Met said that since the Hamas massacre in Israel on October 7, there have been 188 arrests involving hate crimes or linked to protests in London.

Commander Paul Trevers said: “This is a challenging time for communities in London.

“We continue to see a very concerning rise in both antisemitic and Islamophobic hate crime. This is absolutely unacceptable.”

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