A MAJOR pro-Palestine event planned for London this weekend won’t clash with Remembrance events, Rishi Sunak has admitted.
It comes after the Prime Minister hauled the Metropolitan Police chief in for a crisis meeting following the force’s decision to let the march go ahead on Armistice Day.
Sunak has argued that holding the event – which organisers hope will attract as many as one million people – on Armistice Day is “disrespectful” and offensive to the memory of those who fought for the UK.
However following the meeting with police chief Sir Mark Rowley [below] he acknowledged that soldiers “gave so much that we may live in freedom” – and that freedom involves the right to peaceful protest.
“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,” the Tory leader said in a statement.
“We will meet that test and remain true to our principles.”
He said police had confirmed the march will not be near the Cenotaph on Whitehall and timings will not conflict with Remembrance events.
However, he added: “There remains the risk of those who seek to divide society using this weekend as a platform to do so. That is what I discussed with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner in our meeting.”
The Prime Minister’s statement on the demonstration – described as an example of a “hate march” by Home Secretary Suella Braverman – came after it emerged that far-right groups have been identified as the main risk of disorder at the London protest.
A report in the i newspaper said that figures such as Tommy Robinson have been involved in calling on men to “mobilise” against pro-Palestine sentiment.
Meanwhile a call to arms was also issued by the Democratic Football Lads Alliance, a right-wing organisation that spreads Islamophobic hate through football fan networks.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Cobryn stepped in on Wednesday to remind the public that the the pro-Palestine march is not in “competition with the Remembrance weekend”.
Speaking during a debate on the King’s Speech in the House of Commons, the Independent MP for Islington North said: “We are watching in real time on television human life being destroyed with weapons, some of which have been in part supplied from this country.
“Can our government just wake up to the simple humanitarian demand that millions of people in this country are making and will be making in a peaceful march on Saturday, not in competition with the Remembrance weekend, but part and parcel of it.
“We are remembering the horror of all those that lost their lives in two world wars and many other wars and trying to bring an end to this ghastly conflict to save life from being destroyed in Gaza and in anywhere else in the Middle East.
“Surely, we can make that voice and make it clear from this House that we support a ceasefire now.”
Andrew Hoskins, a professor in global security at Glasgow University, said: “They’re going to lose and so they’re fighting over who’s going to be leader and what that future will be in opposition.
“This is the most effective way of coalescing and garnering a certain wing of the party that obviously will be supported in this social media virality and wave of the right wing. It’s very potent.
“This is why Braverman talks about ‘hate marches’ – it’s really very effective.”