PM condemns ‘wholly unacceptable’ violence of far-right 'thugs' and ‘Hamas sympathisers’

Officers faced "aggression" from protesters in significant numbers and "unacceptable violence"

Rishi Sunak has condemned "wholly unacceptable" actions by both far-right "thugs" and "Hamas sympathisers" at protests in London on Saturday.

The Metropolitan Police said officers faced "extreme violence" from far-right counter protesters in the hours before a pro-Palestine march was due to begin.

Nine police officers were injured, including two requiring hospital treatment.

The crowd bearing St George’s flags were seen walking along Embankment and shouting “England till I die”, as they attempted to reach the Cenotaph an hour before the two minute silence for Armistice Day was observed.

Seven men have been charged, the Metropolitan Police said, with a variety of offences including assault on an emergency worker, criminal damage and possession of an offensive weapon.

Around 300,000 people are estimated to have attended the protest in support of Palestine on Saturday afternoon, which was anticipated to be the biggest political march in British history.

A large police presence was in place as the march made its way through the city.

A breakaway group of around 150 people from the march, who were firing fireworks and wearing face coverings, were later detained in Grosvenor Place, the Met said.

A total of 126 arrests were made across the day, the Met said, including at least 92 right-wing counter-protesters.

In a message on Saturday evening, the PM put pressure on police by saying "all criminality must be met with the full and swift force of the law".

The counter-protesters appeared to shout at police: "You let your country down". Credit: PA

Labour called out the PM for not thanking the police for their handling of Armistice Day protests in his statement.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told Sky News’ Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips: "I was just shocked that there wasn’t a word of thanks for the police in there, in the statement.

"We saw police under attack, having missiles thrown at them and having to deal with people who were trying to climb over fences, climbing onto walls to try and get to the Cenotaph. The police made sure that they didn’t. And we should thank them for that."

But Grant Shapps defended the PM, saying: "Of course the Prime Minister is grateful to the police".

He told Sky News: "It goes almost without saying, but I’m sure he’ll say it in person."

Dozens arrested following counter-protest

The Met Police posted on X, formerly Twitter: “While the two minutes’ silence was marked respectfully and without incident on Whitehall, officers have faced aggression from counter-protesters who are in the area in significant numbers.”

The force later said the group had moved into Chinatown where a man was arrested on suspicion of possession of a knife and another for possession of a baton.

Later in the day it said large group of around 100 people had been detained on Bridge Street, under police powers to prevent a disturbance. Another two arrests were made, including one for assaulting a police officer and a second for possession of a controlled substance.

English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson speaks to a police officer at the counter-protest. Credit: PA

In a further update before 3pm, the Met Police said 82 people had been arrested in Tachbrook Street, Pimlico, to prevent a breach of the peace.

Footage from around 10am showed the group chanting at police officers: “You let your country down.”

Calls for Suella Braverman to be sacked

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf called for Suella Braverman to be sacked and not allowed to resign.

Speaking to journalists as he arrived at Remembrance Day commemorations in Edinburgh, the First Minister accused the Home Secretary of "fanning the flames of division".

Mr Yousaf said: "The result of that, of course, is, as we saw, individuals on the far right actively attacking the police. I’m afraid that the Home Secretary’s position, in my view, is untenable.

"She should not even be allowed to resign, she should just be sacked by the Prime Minister because no Home Secretary should be fanning the flames of division – quite the opposite."

Labour's Yvette Cooper criticised the home secretary in an interview on Sky News on Sunday.

"Suella Braverman decided to launch an unprecedented attack on the impartiality of the police and also to deliberately inflame tensions in the run-up to remembrance weekend," the shadow home secretary said.

"No home secretary has ever done that before. Her job is supposed to be to support the police and to work with the police, and also to calm community tensions. She did the opposite, and she did the opposite in a really damaging and irresponsible way."

Pressed about whether the Ms Braverman should resign, Ms Cooper said: "I don’t see how she can continue to do this job, she does not have the credibility or the authority to do the serious job of Home Secretary."

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: "The scenes of disorder we witnessed by the far-right at the Cenotaph are a direct result of the Home Secretary’s words. The police’s job has been made much harder."

Defence secretary Grant Shapps pushed back against suggestions Ms Braverman emboldened far-right protesters, saying it had "nothing to do with" her inflammatory article.

He told Sky News: "It is the case that some people just turned up determined – by the way, nothing to do with what the Home Secretary said in terms of having already said they would be here doing these things – to disrupt things here at the Cenotaph."

He said: "This counter-protest was already going to happen."

Suella Braverman faces calls for resigns after accusations she 'emboldened' far-right protesters

Ms Braverman faces continued pressure from both political sides over her allegations of police bias.

Earlier this week, she wrote in The Times that "pro-Palestinian mobs" were "largely ignored" by police "even when clearly breaking the law" and accused officers of "double standards" when it came to right-wing protests.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt told reporters that "the words that she used are not words that I myself would have used", but Downing Street said the Prime Minister still "has confidence" in Braverman, Downing Street said.

Ms Braverman rowed back on the comments on Friday and expressed her support for the Met Police, a source close to her said.

Rishi Sunak has continued to express his confidence in Ms Braverman despite pressure to sack her as home secretary. Credit: PA

Netanyahu rejects ceasefire calls vowing to continue 'full force' battle with Hamas

The events in London came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected growing international calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying his country’s battle to crush Hamas militants would continue with “full force”.

A ceasefire would be possible only if all 239 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza were released, he said in a televised address.

The Israeli leader also insisted that after the war, now entering its sixth week, Gaza would be demilitarised and Israel would retain security control there.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know