Suella Braverman has met the head of the Metropolitan Police this afternoon to offer the force her “full backing” ahead of controversial pro-Palestine protests taking place this weekend.
On Wednesday, the Home Secretary wrote an article for The Times newspaper – which was not signed off by Number 10 – attacking the force for “playing favourites” with left wing protesters, and accusing them of “double standards”.
It followed her earlier remarks describing the demonstrations as “hate marches”.
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Ms Braverman’s comments have ignited a row within the Conservative Party, with some backing the home secretary, while others are calling for her to resign or be sacked.
Now in an apparent climb down, the minister has met with the head of the force, Sir Mark Rowley, with a source close to Ms Braverman saying she “emphasised her full backing for the police in what will be a complex and challenging situation and expressed confidence that any criminality will be dealt with robustly”.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been under increasing pressure to take action over Ms Braverman’s comments about this weekend’s protests that coincide with Armistice Day.
While the pro-Palestinian march is not set to take place until almost two hours after the nation holds a two-minute silence, and is not due to go to past the Cenotaph in Whitehall, some – including the home secretary – have branded the event offensive and inappropriate.
Sir Mark was summoned to Downing Street earlier in the week to discuss policing of the march with Mr Sunak, who vowed to hold the most senior office in the UK “accountable” for what happens on Saturday.
But, despite airing his own concerns about the protest – calling it “disrespectful” – the prime minister conceded there was “a right to peacefully protest” and the march could go ahead.
The Met chief stood by his decision to let the protest take place throughout the week, saying the “legal threshold” to stop it on security grounds “had not been met”.
However, despite the statements from both Mr Sunak and Sir Mark, the home secretary took to the papers to express her anger at the force’s actions – and publicly contradict her party leader.
After causing a rift within the Conservatives – brought into sharp focus by WhatsApp messages leaked to Sky News – Ms Braverman now appears to be attempting to smooth over relations with the Met.
A source close to her said: “The home secretary and the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police met this afternoon to discuss the policing of demonstrations to be held tomorrow, on Armistice Day.
“The commissioner outlined plans to continue working to maintain public order, ensure compliance with the law and maintain the safety of participants, police officers and the general public.
“The home secretary emphasised her full backing for the police in what will be a complex and challenging situation and expressed confidence that any criminality will be dealt with robustly.”