Suella Braverman has been accused of emboldening far-right protesters who clashed with police in London on Armistice Day.
It follows calls for the home secretary to be sacked after branding pro-Palestinian demonstrations, including one planned for Saturday in central London, “hate marches” and accusing the police of “double standards” in the way they handle protests.
On Saturday, 82 people were arrested in Pimlico, central London. The Metropolitan Police said they were part of a large group of counter-protesters who tried to reach the main pro-Palestinian march in the capital.
A further 10 people were arrested on suspicion of offences including possession of offensive weapons, affray and possession of drugs.
As some scenes of violence broke out, numerous senior political figures blamed the home secretary, refreshing calls for her to resign.
He wrote: “The far right has been emboldened by the home secretary. She has spent her week fanning the flames of division. They are now attacking the police on Armistice Day.
“The home secretary’s position is untenable. She must resign.”
The Metropolitan Police were met with resistance along Embankment, where a large mob of people carrying St George flags was seen walking and shouting slogans including “England ’til I die”.
Tommy Robinson, founder of the English Defence League, also led a group of supporters through the streets before getting in a taxi and driving away.
What unfolds today could impact Braverman’s position as home secretary
Ugly scenes are unfolding in Whitehall. As counter protesters make their way through London, fighting has broken out, dozens have been arrested and already the home secretary’s language is being blamed.
SNP leader Humza Yousaf posted on X: “The far right has been emboldened by the home secretary”, the London Mayor Sadiq Khan says the disorder is a “direct result of her words”.
These are not people who are shy of criticising the home secretary, but others will be making a link between Suella Braverman’s language and the images coming out of Whitehall.
In the last week, senior cabinet ministers have distanced themselves from the home secretary after she repeatedly called pro-Palestinian protests “hate marches” and accused the Met Police of playing favourites.
The Chancellor said her words were “not words I would have used”.
The truth is, it is impossible to know what would have happened if she hadn’t made those comments.
Right wing groups have been in Whitehall in previous weeks, scuffles have broken out and police have been injured. It was always likely there would be significant counter protests on Armistice day.
Suella Braverman’s words certainly don’t seem to have calmed the situation, however.
Last night. the home secretary took a more conciliatory tone, a source close to her confirmed she met the commissioner of the Met Police and emphasised “her full backing for the police”.
But more widespread trouble in the coming hours has to be seen in the political context: Number 10 is not happy with the home secretary for publishing an article without their clearance, her job remains in the balance.
What unfolds today could impact whether Suella Braverman is still home secretary this time next week.
Protesters went on to clash with police in Chinatown.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the scenes of disorder were a “direct result of the home secretary’s words,” adding that the police’s job had been made much harder as a consequence.
While shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper called for “calm”, with a swipe at Mrs Braverman for fuelling tensions.
“Everyone must reflect on the impact of their words and actions. It is the responsibility of all of us to bring people together over this weekend, not divide and inflame,” she posted on social media.
Ms Braverman asserted that she had given police her “full backing” at a meeting with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley on the eve of Armistice Day.
‘Rishi Sunak is responsible’
On Friday, Rishi Sunak maintained “full confidence” in his home secretary, even after some ministers had already distanced themselves from her after she claimed some people were homeless as a “lifestyle choice”.
He defied calls from Labour and the Liberal Democrats to sack Ms Braverman, but there has been speculation that a ministerial reshuffle could see the home secretary moved.
Layla Moran, a Liberal Democrat MP who has family in Gaza, said the blame for any trouble caused by far-right groups lay with Mr Sunak.
“As the police in central London work to contain the far-right, and everyone starts to blame Suella Braverman, just remember who chose to not only give her the job but also chose not to sack her,” she wrote on Saturday.
“Rishi Sunak is as, if not more, responsible for what happens today”.