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Braverman Claims Police Show Favoritism Towards Protests

The government denied ministers interfered with the police, and said the prime minister has ‘full confidence’ in the home secretary amid calls to sack her.

Senior police officers are perceived to be “playing favourites” with protests, Suella Braverman said on Wednesday as she called on Scotland Yard to be tougher on the pro-Palestinian march this Saturday.

The home secretary also doubled down on calling pro-Palestinian demonstrators “hate marchers,” claiming their insistence on marching on Armistice Day is “yet another show of strength” in an article published in The Times of London on Wednesday,Opposition parties accused the government of interfering with police independence, and called on the home secretary to be sacked over her comments.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who’s responsible for policing in the capital, said he’s worried the home secretary’s remarks would make the march bigger than it would have been and agitate “far right” groups.

Responding to questions in Parliament, Policing Minister Chris Philp said the prime minister and the home secretary remain confident in the police. He also rejected the accusation that the ministers have interfered with police independence, saying they are “perfectly entitled to hold policing to account.”

Downing Street said it did not vet Ms. Braverman’s article, and said the prime minister has “full confidence” in the home secretary. A police officer making notes on Oct. 22, 2014. (Joe Giddens/PA)

The prime minister, who has maintained that it’s “provocative and disrespectful” to protest on a memorial day, said on Wednesday that he will hold the Met commissioner accountable to his duty of maintaining order and public safety during this weekend’s events.

Protests and vigils have occurred across the UK since the Israel-Hamas war broke out, including a large “national march for Palestine” in London on every Saturday involving tens of thousands of demonstrators.

According to the Met’s latest tally, since Oct. 7, the force has made a total of 188 arrests involving violence, public order offences, and so-called “hate crimes” in relation to protests in London. Protesters in Trafalgar Square, central London, during a pro-Palestine march organised by Stop the War Coalition and Palestine Solidarity Campaign on Oct. 21, 2023. (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Writing in The Times of London on Wednesday, Ms. Braverman conceded that “marches should almost always be permitted” under British law, but warned that police must apply the law “even-handedly,” saying there’s “a perception that senior police officers play favourites when it comes to protesters.”

The home secretary juxtaposed anti-lockdown protesters and Black Lives Matter demonstrators, saying the former had been “given no quarter by public order police” in 2020 while the latter were “enabled, allowed to break rules, and even greeted with officers taking the knee.”

She also asserted that aggressive right-wing and nationalist protesters have been “rightly met with a stern response ” while “pro-Palestinian mobs displaying almost identical behaviour are largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law.”

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

“If the march goes ahead this weekend, the public will expect to see an assertive and proactive approach to any displays of hate, breaches of conditions and general disorder,” she wrote.

The home secretary also rejected that the recent pro-Palestinian Marches, in which demonstrators demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, is “merely a cry for help” for the region.”

They are an assertion of primacy by certain groups—particularly Islamists—of the kind we are more used to seeing in Northern Ireland,” she asserted. “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, appearing to refer to a report by The Telegraph that said half of the six organisers behind pro-Palestinian march on Saturday have links with Hamas, the proscribed terrorist group which attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and triggered the Israel-Hamas war. Opposition Parties: Sack the Home Secretary Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Ms. 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.

Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Labour MP said that the home secretary is “out of control,” and that the prime minister has either “licensed this” or “is too weak to sack her.”

Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ed Davey also called on the prime minister to sack “his out-of-control home secretary,” claiming she is “putting police officers in harm’s way ahead of far-right protesters flocking to the capital this weekend.”

Minister: Home Secretary Entitled to Scrutinise

Responding to urgent questions in Parliament, the policing minister said “the police retain the confidence of the prime minister and the home secretary.

Mr. Philp also said the government expects the police to protect communities in London, “including the Jewish community who are feeling vulnerable this weekend.”I

“This weekend should first and foremost be about remembering those who gave their lives in defence of this country. Any disruption to remembrance services would be a completely unacceptable and an insult to their memory and I have confidence the Metropolitan Police and other police forces will ensure this weekend passes off peacefully and without disruption,” he said.

The minister denied accusations that Mr. Sunak and Ms. Braverman have interfered with operational police matters, saying “scrutiny of action by the police or indeed any other public body is not the same as interference.”Donwng Street said the Prime Minister has “full confidence” in the Home Secretary, but said the content of her article “was not agreed by Number 10.

Mr. Sunak’s spokesman said they are looking into the details of what happened in relation to the op-ed and “update further.

The official did not back Ms. Braverman’s assertion that the police are biased.”

“The Prime Minister continues to believe that the police will operate without fear or favour,” he said.

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