Despite labelling it “disrespectful”, Rishi Sunak has caved and admitted that a pro-Palestine march will go ahead on Remembrance Day.
The prime minister met with the chief of the Metropolitan Police and said that he would hold him accountable for greenlighting the protest on November 11.
Sir Mark Rowley resisted calls to block the march, saying that the legal threshold for a ban had not been met.
In a statement, the prime minister said: “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.
“The commissioner has committed to keep the Met Police’s posture under constant review based on the latest intelligence about the nature of the protests.”
Policing analyst Graham Wettone told Sky News that Sir Mark had made the right call, saying: “He has interpreted the law correctly and some in Government appear to have misunderstood or misinterpreted it, and forgotten the police have operational independence.
“Sir Mark clearly stated that, at the moment, the intelligence does not support the “reasonable belief” that serious disorder is likely, hence he cannot legally apply for a ban under Section 13.
“I would agree that is probably the case – but intelligence will be developing over the next few days, and the commissioner did not rule out the situation may change before Saturday.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer has accused the prime minister of “cowardice” and “picking a fight” with 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.”