Around 2,000 far right hooligans flocked to London and fought battles with police on Armistice Day amid tensions stirred by Home Secretary Suella Braverman in the run up to the huge pro-Gaza protest
Pressure mounted on Rishi Sunak on Saturday night to sack Suella Braverman following shameful scenes in the capital yesterday.
Some 2,000 far-right protesters, including thugs led by ex-EDL chief Tommy Robinson, turned out on Armistice Day and clashed with police after the Home Secretary branded pro- Gaza supporters “hate marchers”. The worst violence came before the 11am minute’s silence.
There was also trouble from some pro-Palestinian demonstrators. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the unrest was “a direct result” of Ms Braverman’s “words and behaviour” – and she should resign or be sacked. The PM said: “I condemn the violent, wholly unacceptable scenes we have seen.”
Police battled missile-throwing thugs trying to hijack a massive pro-Palestinian protest on Armistice Day. Around 2,000 far right hooligans flocked to London amid tensions stirred by Home Secretary Suella Braverman days before.
Scuffles broke out as police attempted to stop a crowd of people carrying St George’s flags marching along Embankment towards Whitehall, where the Cenotaph is located, shortly after 10am. The group, which had been chanting “England till I die” pushed through the police barrier, with some shouting “let’s have them” as officers hit out with batons. Some chanted anti-Islamic slurs.
Other clashes with police took place in Chinatown – led by former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson – with yobs chanting: “You’re not English any more” towards officers. Robinson – aka Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – was only reinstated on Twitter last week. Several thugs were detained during scuffles in front of parliament, where the group taunted police by chanting, “You’ve let your country down”. Police said they arrested more than 100 of the thugs.
Despite the trouble, the Armistice Day service went ahead at the Cenotaph on Whitehall at 11am with the two-minute silence observed. The Met posted on X, formerly Twitter: “While the two minutes’ silence was marked respectfully and without incident on Whitehall, officers have faced aggression from counter-protesters who are in the area in significant numbers.”
The force added: “Officers have prevented those not involved in getting on to Whitehall so it can take place without disruption, as we committed.
“They have faced unacceptable violence, including people throwing missiles and a metal barrier.”
The violence came days after Home Secretary Ms Braverman claimed “pro-Palestinian mobs” were “largely ignored” by police while aggressive right-wing protesters were “rightly met with a stern response”.
London mayor Sadiq Khan told us: “The scenes we witnessed involving the far right were a direct result of the Home Secretary’s words and behaviour.
“The vast majority of the over 300,000 pro-Palestinian protesters estimated to have marched were peaceful, but the police also had to deal with completely unacceptable behaviour from some, including antisemitism.”
Yesterday’s violence was criticised by veterans who came to the capital to pay their respects. Daniel Finnegan, 48, who served in Kosovo and Afghanistan and travelled from Hertfordshire to the Cenotaph, said: “It’s a sad state of affairs. I don’t agree with any protests taking place but this has been hijacked by the far-right.”
Meanwhile, police said the pro-Palestine march was the biggest yet seen since the Gaza-Israel war began on October 7. The Met estimated 300,000 took part, although organisers claimed there were more than 800,000. Shortly before 1pm they began marching the three miles from Park Lane near Hyde Park to the US embassy in Vauxhall, south of the Thames.
One protester, Inayat Bunglawala, 54, said: “I think there is no better way to honour Armistice Day than to call for an end to the current bloodshed in Gaza.”
And addressing the crowds from on top of a fire engine near Vauxhall, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “On Armistice Day, we say ceasefire now.”
But the Met said it hunting two men pictured wearing headbands of the terrorist group Hamas. Another woman was pictured holding a sign showing the Jewish Star of David wrapped around a Nazi swastika. Pro-Palestine supporters were involved in clashes with far-right thugs near Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, with some fireworks set off.
Towards the end of the march, pro-Palestinian protesters also staged a sit-in at Waterloo Station with a similar sit-in held briefly at Victoria Station – where cops stopped Cabinet minister Michael Gove from being mobbed. The Met later said officers detained around 150 people from a breakaway pro-Palestinian demonstration in Grosvenor Place.
Last night London mayor Mr Khan and Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf led calls for Suella Braverman to be sacked, accusing her of “fanning the flames of division.”
Mr Yousaf tweeted: “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.”
Lib Dem Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran added: “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. Rishi Sunak is as, if not more, responsible for what happens today.”
Westminster insiders believe Mr Sunak was waiting until after the weekend to oust Ms Braverman in a reshuffle of his top team this week. Last night the PM posted on X: “I condemn the violent, wholly unacceptable scenes we have seen today from the EDL and associated groups and Hamas sympathisers attending the National March for Palestine.
“The despicable actions of a minority of people undermine those who have chosen to express their views peacefully. Remembrance weekend is a time for us to come together as a nation and remember those who fought and died for our freedoms. What we have seen today does not defend the honour of our Armed Forces, but utterly disrespects them.
“That is true for EDL thugs attacking police officers and trespassing on the Cenotaph, and it is true for those singing antisemitic chants and brandishing pro-Hamas signs and clothing on today’s protest. The fear and intimidation the Jewish community have experienced over the weekend is deplorable.
“All criminality must be met with the full and swift force of the law. That is what I told the Met Police Commissioner on Wednesday, that is what they are accountable for and that is what I expect.
“I will be meeting the Met Police Commissioner in the coming days.”