Rishi Sunak and Met chief Mark Rowley discuss police powers in wake of Armistice Day protests

People during a pro-Palestinian protest in London, marching from Hyde Park to the US embassy in Vauxhall.
People during a pro-Palestinian protest in London, marching from Hyde Park to the US embassy in Vauxhall on Saturday. Credit: PA

Rishi Sunak highlighted the “vital importance” of pursuing both Hamas supporters and “those responsible for the violent scenes near the Cenotaph” on Armistice Day so they face the full force of the law, in a meeting with Sir Mark Rowley, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Downing Street said.

The meeting between the prime minister and the Met boss came a day after Mr Sunak sacked Suella Braverman who, as home secretary, branded pro-Palestinian protesters “hate marchers” and accused the police of bias for letting a rally go ahead on Armistice Day.

Previous weekends have seen thousands of protesters and counter-protesters converging on the capital Credit: PA

Dozens of counter-protesters were arrested, including many trying to confront those participating in the march which Mr Sunak and Ms Braverman had urged police to ban.

Nine officers were injured as they prevented a crowd reaching the Cenotaph with Met Police Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist calling their “extreme violence” towards the police “extraordinary and deeply concerning”.

Number 10 said that the powers available to officers to deal with protests would be kept under review to see if they need to be beefed up as Mr Sunak maintained his view that holding a march on Armistice Day was “divisive and wrong,” No 10 said.

Sir Mark had resisted pressure heaped on the force by politicians, including Mr Sunak, to try to block the gathering in London last Saturday, saying intelligence surrounding the potential for serious disorder did not meet the threshold to apply to prohibit the march.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We will keep police powers under review to ensure they have every tool necessary to crack down on those responsible for some of the outrageous scenes we saw at the weekend.”

Sir Mark also met new home secretary James Cleverly, who is also expected to meet Labour London Mayor Sadiq Khan, No 10 said.

“(The Prime Minister and Sir Mark) discussed the ongoing challenge of policing the marches and the need to ensure the Jewish community feels safe in light of the continued use of antisemitic chants and imagery.

“The prime minister reiterated the vital importance of pursuing those showing support for Hamas and those responsible for the violent scenes near the Cenotaph so they face the full force of the law,” Mr Sunak’s official spokesman said.

A pro-Palestinian protest in Park Lane Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

The Metropolitan Police commissioner has come under pressure from politicians after several weeks of demonstrations for a ceasefire in the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Saturday’s march coincided with Armistice Day and multiple Tory MPs had urged organisers to cancel the demonstration, which Mr Sunak had branded “provocative and disrespectful”.

The former home secretary was blamed for stoking tensions after scenes of far-right violence towards officers on Saturday near the Cenotaph resulted in dozens of arrests.

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