LONDON (Reuters) -King Charles and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak led Britain in remembering the country’s war dead on Sunday, seeking to unify communities a day after a large pro-Palestinian march was marked by skirmishes between far-right counter-protesters and police.
At a solemn ceremony at the Cenotaph war memorial on Whitehall in central London, Charles, Sunak, other politicians and senior members of the royal family held a two-minute silence and then laid wreaths to honour those killed in war.
Sunday’s events were overshadowed by scenes of violence on Saturday, when far right protesters against a pro-Palestinian march skirmished with police, and accusations that Britain’s interior minister had fuelled the tensions.
Suella Braverman, whom opposition politicians and some in the governing Conservative Party have called on to step down, praised the police for their handling of Saturday’s events “for their professionalism in the face of violence and aggression”.
It was a more measured tone compared with an article last week when she accused the police of adopting “double standards” in its treatment of protests, notably pro-Palestinian marches – an argument opposition Labour lawmakers said stoked the anger among right-wing groups.
But Braverman maintained her position that more needed to be done to combat instances of antisemitism at protests.
There were, she said “sick, inflammatory and, in some cases, clearly criminal chants, placards and paraphernalia openly on display at the march” and that “this can’t go on”.
“Week by week, the streets of London are being polluted by hate, violence, and antisemitism. Members of the public are being mobbed and intimidated. Jewish people in particular feel threatened. Further action is necessary.”
Earlier, Defence Minister Grant Shapps said he would not have used the language Braverman did her an article but that it aired concerns over whether the police had acted swiftly enough against protesters who might be breaking the law.
“I’m saying I do think it’s very important that the police do act quickly,” he said.
Yvette Cooper, opposition Labour’s home affairs policy chief, told Sky News Braverman’s actions were designed “to deliberately inflame tensions in the run-up to Remembrance weekend”.
“She should not have been doing this job in the first place and Rishi Sunak let her and he is too weak to do anything about it … I don’t see how she can continue to do this job.”