Picking a fight with the UK’s top cop is probably not a sensible move | Politics News

Both the prime minister and his residence secretary have been pressured into an embarrassing retreat, says Sky News’ Jon Craig.

By Jon Craig, Chief political correspondent @joncraig

Rishi Sunak has basically instructed Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley that if there’s violence at the pro-Palestine march in London on Saturday, it is his fault.

But it is a petulant response to Sir Mark’s defiance in the face of the monumental strain from the PM and different ministers for the Armistice Day march to be banned.

Picking a fight with the UK’s top cop is probably not the most sensible move for a prime minister or residence secretary – particularly for a Conservative.

Remember the Tories’ declare to be the celebration of regulation and order?

Politics reside: Johnson’s crew ‘brutal and ineffective’, inquiry hears

The solely targets for assault that may have been extra unwise can be the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Pope, Harry Kane, David Beckham or a nationwide treasure like Joanna Lumley.

Having mentioned that, former England soccer supervisor Glenn Hoddle nonetheless claims Tony Blair hounded him out in 1999 after he mentioned the disabled had been being punished for sins dedicated in a earlier life.

But as soon as Suella Braverman had made her incendiary “hate marches” assault on pro-ceasefire protesters final week, the battlelines had been drawn and the Tories declared conflict on Sir Mark.

The climax on this energy wrestle got here when Mr Sunak summoned the commissioner to Downing Street on Wednesday in the hope – little doubt – of persuading him to again down and veto the march.

But he failed. Sir Mark stood his floor, and the PM – alongside with his fiercely combative residence secretary – had been pressured into an embarrassing retreat.

The march goes forward, and Mr Sunak has been outmanoeuvred.

Braverman criticises protests

Stepping again from the present dispute for a second, what Met commissioner is going to confess to a prime minister that she or he cannot police a large demo – nonetheless massive – and shield the public?

Supporters of the calls for for a ceasefire have argued that – regardless of a few of the offensive slogans and allegations of intimidation – there are extra arrests at Premier League soccer matches than these marches.

That’s extremely debatable. But the organisers of the Armistice Day march did assist Sir Mark’s defiant stand by pledging to avoid the Cenotaph in Whitehall and wait practically two hours till after the two-minute silence earlier than they start.

Even earlier than the Downing Street showdown, Mr Sunak appeared to concede that he was shedding the battle with Sir Mark.

“This is a decision that the Metropolitan Police commissioner has made,” mentioned the PM.

“He has said that he can ensure that we safeguard remembrance for the country this weekend as well as keep the public safe.”

Then the prime minister declared: “Now, my job is to hold him accountable for that.”

Met Police chief ‘accountable’ over protest

That sounded very very like a risk. And little doubt if there is critical violence on Saturday, Mr Sunak – and his controversial residence secretary – will gloat: “Told you so!”

In a tetchy assertion admitting defeat after the Downing Street assembly, Mr Sunak talked fairly sheepishly about the freedom of the proper to protest peacefully.

Yet at the identical time, he repeated his declare that the protest was disrespectful and offensive to the reminiscence of Britain’s conflict heroes.

And then, in a weird remark, he mentioned the commissioner had dedicated to maintain the Met’s “posture” below fixed overview based mostly on the newest intelligence about the nature of the protests.

Posture? That’s a loaded phrase. Was Mr Sunak suggesting Sir Mark had been posturing in his stand-off with the authorities?

Despite all his speak about policing of the march being an operational matter for the Met, if the PM is certainly responsible of misjudgement in his technique, who is responsible?

‘We cannot implement style or decency’

Many MPs will level the determine at his inflammatory residence secretary, accused by Sir Keir Starmer in the King’s Speech debate this week of pursuing a “divisive brand of politics … as a platform for her own ambitions”.

That was after Ms Braverman’s “lifestyle choice” slur on the homeless sleeping in tents on the town centres, which got here simply days after her “hate marches” assault.

Plenty of Tory MPs need Mr Sunak to sack his residence secretary. Some even imagine she’s goading him into sack her so she will launch a Tory management bid.

Whatever her motives, if she’s chargeable for Mr Sunak’s ill-judged assaults on Sir Mark and his power, she’s accomplished the PM no favours.

The Met chief will clearly be desperately hoping there is not critical hassle at Saturday’s march. Because he is aware of Mr Sunak – and Ms Braverman – will blame him and say it is his fault.

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