Rishi Sunak Loses Battle With Police Chief Over Pro-Palestine Protest

Sir Mark Rowley was summoned to meet Rishi Sunak on Wednesday afternoon.
Sir Mark Rowley was summoned to meet Rishi Sunak on Wednesday afternoon.

Sir Mark Rowley was summoned to meet Rishi Sunak on Wednesday afternoon.

Rishi Sunak has failed to persuade the Metropolitan Police chief to stop a pro-Palestinian demonstration taking place on Armistice Day.

Sir Mark Rowley had been summoned to Downing Street on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the issue after the prime minister has repeatedly said it would be “disrespectful” for the protest to go ahead.

After what was expected to be a “robust” meeting, Sunak said in a statement he had received “reassurances” from Rowley, but signalled the London march on Saturday is set to go-ahead.

Rowley has defied calls to try to block the protest calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, saying the intelligence surrounding the potential for serious disorder this weekend does not meet the threshold to apply to prohibit the march.

Sunak said: “This afternoon I asked the Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, to come to Downing Street and provide reassurances that the police are taking every step necessary to safeguard Remembrance services, provide reassurance to those who wish to pay their respects across the country and keep the public safe from disorder this weekend.

“It’s welcome that the police have confirmed that the march will be away from the Cenotaph and they will ensure that the timings do not conflict with any Remembrance events.

“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 commissioner has committed to keep the Met Police’s posture under constant review based on the latest intelligence about the nature of the protests.”

More than 70,000 people are expected to attend the demonstration in central London on Saturday on Armistice Day, when veterans plan to gather at the Cenotaph to commemorate Britain’s war dead.

London’s police force has come under intense political pressure to take a firmer line on the rally, with home secretary Suella Braverman labelling the demonstrations as “hate marches”.

Under section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986, a procession can be banned when there is a risk of serious disorder. The Met, which has control of on-the-ground policing, must prove the threshold for a Section 13 order has been met before seeking approval from the home secretary to sign off on a ban.