Home secretary calling protesters “hate marchers” is under fire
After describing pro-Palestine protesters as “hate marchers” and accusing police of double standards, British Home Secretary Suella Braverman has come under fire.
Thousands have taken to the streets over the past month to protest Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza and demand a ceasefire from the United Kingdom government.
A protest planned for Palestinians this Saturday coincides with Armistice Weekend, an annual commemoration of World War I.
Sir Mark Rowley, the Met police commissioner, said on Tuesday that there were insufficient grounds to ban a pro-Palestinian march on Armistice Day.
On Wednesday, Braverman accused police of being lenient towards pro-Palestinian demonstrations, claiming right-wing and nationalist protesters were treated differently.
“I do not believe that these marches are merely a cry for help for Gaza,” wrote Braverman in the Times.
“They are an assertion of importance 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 organizers have links to terrorist groups, including Hamas.”
In contrast, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who earlier called the protests on Armistice weekend “disrespectful,” reversed himself on Wednesday after meeting police chief Mark Rowley and accepted that “people had the right to protest peacefully.”
As Sunak said: “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.”
Labor Party leader Colum Eastwood called for Braverman to be removed from her position as he characterized her comments as “aggressive ignorance.”
“It’s honestly like reading a pound shop Enoch Powell piece,” he said.
Lib Dems, Labour, and Scottish National Party members called for the home secretary to be sacked after she accused police of “double standards” and “playing favorites” when it comes to protesters.
It is believed that Braverman is trying to prepare for a conservative leadership race if the party loses power in next year’s election.
“Suella Braverman is out of control .Her article tonight 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.” Yvette Cooper, of the main opposition Labor Party, wrote on X.