End descent into ‘mob rule’ and shut down intimidating protests, Rishi Sunak tells police amid threats to MPs

28 February 2024, 23:57 | Updated: 29 February 2024, 06:16

Rishi Sunak has warned 'mob rule' is threatening to 'replace democratic rule'.
Rishi Sunak has warned 'mob rule' is threatening to 'replace democratic rule'. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Jenny Medlicott

The Prime Minister has urged police chiefs to get tough on protesters amid fears ‘mob rule is replacing democratic rule’.

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Rishi Sunak gathered police chiefs in Downing Street on Wednesday evening to discuss what more can be done to shut down intimidating protests and protect democracy in the UK.

Mr Sunak warned that “increasingly violent and intimidatory behaviour” was preventing MPs from doing their jobs.

He told police chiefs on Wednesday: “There is a growing consensus that mob rule is replacing democratic rule. And we've got to collectively, all of us, change that urgently.

“We simply cannot allow this pattern of increasingly violent and intimidatory behaviour which is, as far as anyone can see, intended to shout down free debate and stop elected representatives doing their job. That is simply undemocratic.”

Mr Sunak has called for greater police action to reassure the public about the protests too.

He continued: “We also need to demonstrate more broadly to the public that you will use the powers you already have, the laws that you have.

“I am going to do whatever it requires to protect our democracy and our values that we all hold dear. That is what the public expects.

“It is fundamental to our democratic system. And also it is vital for maintaining public confidence in the police.”

Rishi Sunak met with police chiefs on Wednesday.
Rishi Sunak met with police chiefs on Wednesday. Picture: Alamy

It comes after the Home Office announced a new security package worth £31 million earlier in the day to support MPs concerned about their safety.

Several MPs have said that they fear for their safety because of intimidation from protesters. Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood was targeted by activists at his home.

Mr Sunak’s comments follow similar remarks made by Home Secretary James Cleverly on Wednesday, who said he was unclear on what protesters were trying to achieve.

Read more: Police 'looking into hate speech complaint against Lee Anderson' after MP said Sadiq Khan was controlled by Islamists

Read more: Palestine protest leader says James Cleverly's call for activists to end Gaza marches is 'absurd'

Continued protests since October 7 have driven increased pressure on police services.
Continued protests since October 7 have driven increased pressure on police services. Picture: Alamy

'It's absurd for him to think it's his place to advise a protest movement on when they should...'

He also warned that the protests were putting undue pressure on police services after a Home Affairs Committee (HAC) report earlier this week revealed that mass protests have cost forces across the country £25m since October 7.

Protests about the conflict in Gaza are one of the main drivers of increased pressure on the police, however, other activist groups such as Just Stop Oil have also contributed.

The HAC urged the Government to consider requiring protest organisers to provide more notice to police ahead of a march.

However, pro-Palestinian activists have vowed to continue, as Ben Jamal, who leads the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told LBC that it wasn't Mr Cleverly's place "to advise a protest movement on when they should or should not be protesting".

Mr Jamal said he did not endorse protesters going to MPs' houses.

"That's an issue of privacy and respect for the privacy of members of parliament and their family," he said.

But he said that the protests would stop "when the reason for the protests stops".

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