No 10 didn't sign off on Braverman's criticism of police over pro-Palestinian marches

Rishi Sunak is under pressure to sack Suella Braverman after she claimed police 'play favourites' with pro-Palestinian protests in an unauthorised op-ed, ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana reports

Downing Street did not clear Suella Braverman's controversial article, in which she criticised the policing of pro-Palestinian marches in London, a spokesperson has confirmed.

"The content was not agreed by Number 10," Rishi Sunak's spokesman said, adding they were looking into what happened.

Mr Sunak still has "full confidence" in the home secretary, he added.

The prime minister is facing calls to sack Ms Braverman as home secretary from the leaders of the Labour and Liberal Democrats as well as other top opposition ministers.

The backlash comes after the publication of Ms Braverman's opinion piece in the Times, in which she accused the police of having a softer approach with left-wing protests.

Downing Street would not say whether the prime minister agrees with the language she used.

"The prime minister continues to believe the police will operate without fear or favour," Mr Sunak's official spokesman said.

No 10 said it would "update further" after looking into the "details" of what happened in relation to the Times op-ed.

As well as claiming the police "largely ignored... pro-Palestinian mobs" Mrs Braverman also went on to compare the marches to the Troubles.

She wrote in the Times: "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."

She also criticised plans for a protest in London on Armistice Day, while she characterised alleged reports that its organisers were linked to Hamas and described them as "disturbingly reminiscent of Ulster".

Northern Ireland's Social Democratic and Labour Party leader Colum Eastwood has said Mrs Braverman's comments are "deliberately stoking division".

Mr Eastwood said: "The comments comparing the proposed Armistice Day protests against the appalling bombardment of civilians in Gaza with the marching tradition in Northern Ireland are an exercise in what can only be described as aggressive ignorance; ignorance of the conditions faced by the civilian population in Gaza, ignorance of the role of the Met police, ignorance of the complex history and traditions of marching and protest in Northern Ireland.

"She has managed to offend just about everyone – no mean feat in a divided society."

Northern Ireland's Social Democratic and Labour Party leader Colum Eastwood. Credit: PA

When and where are events taking place this weekend?

11am The Cenotaph - A two minutes silence will be observed for Armistice Day.

12pm Hyde Park - March for Palestine protest begins at the Marble Arch corner of Hyde park.

People have been advised to use Bond Street, Oxford Street and Hyde Park Corner tubes as well as Marble Arch to ease congestion.

This is one hour after and two miles away from the Cenotaph.

Saturday's pro-palestinian march route. Credit: ITV News

The march - Protestors will walk down Vauxhall Bridge Road to cross the River Thames. At its closest point this is just over one mile from the Cenotaph.

The demo then finishes at the US Embassy on Nine Elms Lane.

Royal Albert Hall - 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. There will be two performances at 2pm and 7pm.

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

Earlier, the prime minister accepted the planned march on Saturday would go ahead despite opposition from himself and the home secretary.

Mr Sunak had described the planned protests as "disrespectful" while other senior Tories have pressured the Metropolitan Police to ban the demonstration.

While the prime minister had vowed to hold Sir Mark Rowley “accountable” for his decision to greenlight the march, the commissioner said the law would only allow him to ban the march in "extreme cases".

The Met could request the power to ban the event under Section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986, but that would only apply if there was the threat of serious public disorder which could not be controlled by other measures.

Could the Met ban Saturday's protest? ITV News' Sangeeta Kandola explains

In comments likely to be seen as criticism of his own boss's handling of the issue, Home Office minister Lord Sharpe of Epsom said that "in a perfect world" conversations about police operations "should be held in private".

He added that the force is "more than capable" and is "doing a good job".

His comments echoed those of former Met commissioner Lord Hogan-Howe, who raised his "concern" that discussions around difficult operational decisions were being broadcast in the media.

"It seems that rocks are being hurled across the press in a way that I would hope that these conversations could be held privately," he added.

Since the October 7 attacks, the Met Police has made 188 arrests linked to London protests. Credit: Jordan Pettitt/PA

On Thursday, members of the Tory party attempted to distance themselves from what has been described Ms Braverman's "inflammatory rhetoric".

Speaking on ITV's Good Morning Britain, Transport secretary Mark Harper declined to say whether Ms Braverman's language inflames tensions and adds to difficulties for the police.

Refusing to echo her description of pro-Palestinian demonstrations as "hate marches", he said: "I happen to think it's disrespectful for them to be doing so on Armistice Day, but they do have the right to do that in a free country."

Sir Keir Starmer said people across the country are facing "the worst of all circumstances" with a home secretary who is "divisive" and a prime minister who is "too weak to do anything about it".

"She is doing the complete opposite of what I think most people in this country would see as the proper role of the home secretary," the Labour leader said.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer reacts to Suella Braverman's 'divisive' comments

Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, Pat McFadden, Labour's shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said that according to ministerial code, "interventions" such as Ms Braverman's article have to be cleared by No 10.

He shared his letter to the prime minister, which said: "To say that the article was not cleared and then do nothing about it would strip you of all authority over the home secretary and leave her free to continue to do and say whatever she likes without fear of sanction from you.

"This would be a display of weakness and an extraordinary situation in which to leave your government."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan followed suit, saying the home secretary's comments were "incorrect, irresponsible and inflammatory".

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats said: "Rishi Sunak must finally act with integrity by sacking his out-of-control home secretary.

"Suella Braverman is now putting police officers in harm’s way ahead of far-right protesters flocking to the capital this weekend.

"The home secretary's irresponsible words and foul actions have significantly increased the likelihood of unrest this weekend and the risk of violence towards officers.

"Ministers are spending their time fanning the flames of division, instead of bringing communities together. It's shameful."

Elsewhere, Kevin Stewart, a former Scottish government minister lodged a parliamentary motion in Holyrood calling on MSPs to "show zero-tolerance" over Ms Braverman's recent comments. It also calls for Mr Sunak to remove her from the Home Office.

Describing the home secretary's remarks as the "final straw", Mr Stewart said that each day the home secretary stays in office "poses a real and immediate threat to thousands of people living in Scotland".

"The prime minister should waste no time in urgently removing her from office if his government is to hold on to any degree of credibility," he added.

"Her comments are not just insulting, they are dangerous. She has given the far-right a voice at the highest levels of government, at a time where we desperately need compassionate, welcoming and level-headed leadership."

There was no mention of Suella Braverman in the Prime Minister’s speech Credit: Justin Tallis/PA

Speaking on the Political Currency podcast, former chancellor George Osborne said: "I know that Rishi Sunak has on a couple of occasions come very close to getting rid of Suella Braverman in reshuffles in the last year, and he hasn't done so.

"There's an interesting question. The kind of classic political logic now would say, you can't fire her, you'll have a big Tory rebellion, she's too powerful, you're too weak at the moment to pull that off.

"But there's another way of looking at it, which is: you're 20 points behind in the polls, your personal ratings aren't great. How can you demonstrate strength? How can you demonstrate a gutsy approach? How can you be the change candidate that you say you want to be?

"If he fired her there would be a big row, there would be a lot of fireworks. But, ultimately, prime ministers tend to win those encounters because the home secretary will suddenly become a backbencher."

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