LONDON – Britain’s government escalated its row with London’s police chief on Thursday over the handling of a pro-Palestinian march this weekend, accusing his officers of taking a softer stance towards left-wing causes.
Plans for a demonstration in London on Saturday’s Armistice Day has sparked a row between government and police.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he would hold the force accountable for any trouble after it said there was not enough reason to ban it.
London has been the venue for some of the biggest demonstrations in Europe since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct 7.
Tens of thousands of marchers have gathered each weekend to demand an end to Israel’s retaliatory bombing of Gaza.
Police have said they expect a significant demonstration on Saturday, Nov 11, the anniversary of the end of World War I.
They added there are no plans for protests on Nov 12, when formal Remembrance Sunday events are held in central London.
Mr Sunak has called the march disrespectful.
Police commissioner, Mark Rowley, has said however that any ban would require intelligence of a threat of serious disorder.
He added such bans had not been implemented for a decade.
Interior Minister Suella Braverman has called the demonstrations “hate marches”.
Writing in The Times on Thursday she said they were an “assertion of primacy by certain groups — particularly Islamists” and a show of strength.
“Unfortunately, there is a perception that senior police officers play favourites when it comes to protesters,” she wrote.
“During Covid, why was it that lockdown objectors were given no quarter by public order police yet Black Lives Matters demonstrators were enabled, allowed to break rules and even greeted with officers taking the knee?”
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