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RISHI SUNAK must not “politicise” the Metropolitan Police by “interfering” with the force’s decision to allow a pro-Palestinian march to take place this weekend, Labour’s John McDonnell urged today.
The left MP’s call came after the Prime Minister continued his attack on demonstrations calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and vowed to hold Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley “accountable” for his decision to give the green light to Saturday’s action.
Mr Sunak was expected to meet Sir Mark today to discuss the policing of the protest in central London.
The demonstration, the latest in a series of weekly actions, falls on Armistice Day, although formal remembrance events will be taking place on Sunday 12.
Downing Street insisted that the PM would be “seeking assurances” that the force’s approach was “robust,” rather than trying to put pressure on the Met chief.
This comes after Home Secretary Suella Braverman attempted to push the force into banning the march.
Many other Cabinet ministers have joined attempts to vilify the protesters, calling the action “provocative” and “disrespectful.”
Mr McDonnell, who will attend the demonstration, told the BBC: “The Metropolitan Police and the organisers of the demonstration at the weekend are working closely together, all with the same purpose.
“[This is] to enable people to peacefully demonstrate and not interfere with other activities that are going on associated with the remembrance weekend. I think they’ll be successful.
“I’m saying to other politicians who are interfering — don’t politicise the police in this way.
“They’re trying to do their job. We should support them and the organisers themselves have made it clear this is a march for peace and a ceasefire.”
The former shadow chancellor also criticised Ms Braverman’s use of the term “hate marches” as “completely counter-productive.”
In a statement on Tuesday night, Sir Mark said that there were no powers to ban protests and that the action would go ahead.
The Stop the War Coalition, one of the protest organisers, welcomed Sir Mark’s acknowledgement of the right to protest.
“The demand to prohibit the march rested on nothing other than the fact that a far-right Home Secretary does not like our message,” the group said in a statement.
“Down that route lies the demise of democracy. Saturday’s march too will be peaceful and will restore the focus to where it should be — the suffering in Gaza and the urgent need for the British government to support a ceasefire.”
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