Rishi Sunak slams 'EDL thugs' over Armistice Day chaos

Rishi Sunak slams ‘EDL thugs’ over Armistice Day chaos: Prime Minister condemns ‘violent, wholly unacceptable’ scenes after more than 100 are arrested following clashes with police and takes aim at ‘Hamas sympathisers’ attending pro-Palestine march

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Rishi Sunak today condemned the ‘despicable’ violence of ‘EDL thugs’ who attacked police officers and pro-Palestinian protesters pictured openly supporting Hamas after a day of chaos in central London. 

The Metropolitan Police said 105 arrests have been made so far today, the ‘vast majority’ of counter-protesters who were filmed pelting officers with bottles, cans and metal fences in Whitehall. 

While the pro-Palestinian march did not see this level of violence it was once again marred by incidents of antisemitism, with one sign showing a Jewish Star of David wrapped around a Nazi swastika. Police are hunting two men seen wearing headbands supporting Hamas, a proscribed terror group. 

The Prime Minister said the ugly scenes on Armistice Day ‘utterly disrespects’ the spirit of remembrance. He said he would meet Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley in the coming days to hold him ‘accountable’ for dealing with the disturbances.

Mr Sunak said in a statement: ‘I condemn the violent, wholly unacceptable scenes we have seen today from the EDL (English Defence League) 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.’

He said their actions do ‘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.’

He said he would be meeting the Met chief, adding: ‘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.’

The Metropolitan Police are braced for further ugly clashes as ‘drunken’ far-right thugs remain holed up in pubs as the pro-Palestinian march – which organisers say was attended by 800,000 people – comes to an end. 

Officers have surrounded the White Swan pub on Vauxhall Bridge Road and prevented some people from leaving to stop them clashing with demonstrators leaving the main march in Nine Elms. 

Tense scenes erupted outside a second pub, The Duke of York in Victoria Street, as swarms of officers were filmed closing in on a large group of counter-protestors gathered outside.  

Counter-protesters confront a line of police outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster 

Rishi Sunak said the ugly scenes on Armistice Day ‘utterly disrespects’ the spirit of remembrance

He said the actions ‘do not defend the honour of our Armed Forces, but utterly disrespects them’

A counter-protester wearing a balaclava throws a can of beer at a police officer 

A police officer in riot gear pushes back a man who snatched a pro-Palestinian placard from a woman 

A police officer faces off against a group of counter-protesters near the ‘National March For Palestine’

Police officers detain a man in the street close to the ‘National March For Palestine’ in central London

Earlier, hundreds of yobs claiming they wanted to ‘protect the Cenotaph’ clashed with officers in Whitehall 

This evening, a group of seven thugs were witnessed by a MailOnline reporter trying to attack a lone pro-Palestinian protester after boarding a Circle Line train at Westminster

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Hundreds of yobs claiming they wanted to ‘protect the Cenotaph’ clashed with officers in Whitehall this afternoon. Shocking video shows the hooligans – led by Tommy Robinson – throwing bottles and metal barriers at police.

Officers have made more than 100 arrests among the Robinson mob with alleged offences including carrying a knife, assaulting a police officer and possession of a controlled substance.

The main pro-Palestinian march began dispersing from Nine Elms at 5pm. Police are hunting several people pictured with pro-Hamas slogans. Organisers say 800,000 attended. 

This evening, a group of seven thugs were witnessed by a MailOnline reporter trying to attack a lone pro-Palestinian protester after boarding a Circle Line train at Westminster. 

READ MORE – Met Police surround pubs and order hooligans participating to the Pro-Palestine protest not to leave 

The group immediately targeted the man, who was on his own, asking him if he supported Hamas before becoming aggressive and shouting that he was a ‘paedophile’ and ‘agreed with underage sex’.

As multiple female passengers attempted to intervene and film the encounter, several of the men began verbally abusing them also, continuing to shout ‘paedophile’.

Matters escalated when the men, who were concealing their faces, attempted to punch their original victim and a scuffle broke out. Passengers pulled the emergency alarm and several phoned the police.

 Police officers also prevented some people from leaving the White Swan pub on Vauxhall Bridge Road so they do not ’cause aggro’. An officer at the scene said: ‘We’re stopping some people from coming out as they might cause some aggro.’

Pro-Palestine protesters on the main march booed at those kettled inside the pub as they as they walked by.

A heavy police presence is in place outside pub including police on horseback.

A group of about 100 people were earlier held near Westminster Bridge under police powers to prevent a disturbance.

Clashes then took place between the protesters and police in Westminster, with images showing one of the men grabbing a riot helmet from an officer and holding it aloft triumphantly.

Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said that hundreds of counter-protest demonstrators had arrived this morning and ‘seemed intent on confrontation and intent on violence’.

He said: ‘There are a number of groups within this counter-protest who are split off and seem intent on seeking confrontation with the main Palestinian march and the policing operation at the moment is being effective in preventing that happening.’

Mr Twist said the main march involved tens of thousands of people and added: ‘This is the biggest march that we’ve seen in this phase and at the moment there are no issues with it.

‘It’s being closely monitored by police and also we have police looking out for any troublemakers that might be intent on causing disruption or seeking a confrontation with people on that main march.’

Clashes then took place between the protesters and police in Westminster, with images showing one of the men grabbing a riot helmet from an officer and holding it aloft triumphantly.

 Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said that hundreds of counter-protest demonstrators had arrived this morning and ‘seemed intent on confrontation and intent on violence’.

He said: ‘There are a number of groups within this counter-protest who are split off and seem intent on seeking confrontation with the main Palestinian march and the policing operation at the moment is being effective in preventing that happening.’

A counter-protester is detained by police in Parliament Square in central London

Police block counter-protesters in central London today during a pro-Palestinian march

Officers arrest a counter-protester in Parliament Square during pro-Palestine marches

Right-wing protesters clash with police officers near Parliament Square on Saturday

Police clash with far-right counter-protesters in Parliament Square earlier today

A counter-protester swipes at a riot police officer in Parliament Square

Police officers prevented people from leaving the White Swan pub (pictured) on Vauxhall Bridge Road so they did not ’cause aggro’

Men hold cans of beer and shout at police officers as they are encircled in order to prevent further violence

A right-wing protester is seen appearing to assault a pro-Palestine protester as a second attempts of intervene

A pro-Palestinian supporter clashes with a right-wing protester in London

Tussles broke out as police officers vowed to use all available means to keep right-wing protesters separate from the pro-Palestine march

At least four people have been arrested today as part of the protests

Far-right figure Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, and his supporters were heard chanting football-style cheers as they overwhelmed police outside the Met’s HQ and flooded onto Whitehall – just minutes before 11am

Police officers arrest a man on Parliament Square after the two-minute silence for Armistice Day

Police officers chase groups of right-wing protesters through streets close to the ‘National March For Palestine’ in central London

A police officer chases a man through the streets of London as part of the Met’s operation on Saturday

Riot police clash with Tommy Robinson supporters in Chinatown in London

Right-wing protesters scuffle with police in London’s Chinatown after the two minutes silence

A statement from the Met Police said officers had been targeted by protesters throwing ‘missiles and a metal barrier’

A right-wing protester gestures as police officers keeps the group separate from pro-Palestine protesters

Far-right figure Tommy Robinson arrived in Whitehall early on Saturday morning along with hundreds of right-wing protesters

Police officers monitor protesters gathering with placards and flags for the ‘National March For Palestine’ in central London today

Mr Twist said the main march involved tens of thousands of people and added: ‘This is the biggest march that we’ve seen in this phase and at the moment there are no issues with it.

‘It’s being closely monitored by police and also we have police looking out for any troublemakers that might be intent on causing disruption or seeking a confrontation with people on that main march.’

A statement from the force read: ‘Officers have arrested 82 people in Tachbrook Street, Pimlico to prevent a breach of the peace. 

‘They’re part of a large group of counter protestors we have been monitoring who have tried to reach the main protest march. We will continue to take action to avoid the disorder that would likely take place if that happened.’

READ MORE: London pro-Palestine march route: Interactive map shows today’s Armistice Day protest

They had previously announced four arrests including two which took place not far from Whitehall.

As the afternoon drew to a close, the force said its officers had been forced to intervene to allow an event at the Cenotaph to go ahead unimpeded by right-wing protesters.

A statement read: ‘There is a remembrance event underway at the Cenotaph. Officers have prevented those not involved getting onto Whitehall so it can take place without disruption, as we committed. 

‘They have faced unacceptable violence, including people throwing missiles and a metal barrier. 

‘Those using violence made no effort to use the pavement, which is open along the full length of Whitehall on one side, in order to watch the event taking place. They were solely intent on confronting officers.’

Leading politicians including London Mayor Sadiq Khan blamed the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, for the outbreaks of violence after her controversial comments earlier this week which described today’s gathering in support of Palestinians as a ‘hate march’.

Elsewhere the force said the pro-Palestine march, which is expected to be attended by up to one million people, got off to a peaceful start and that no incidents have so far been reported. 

Mr Khan said: ‘The scenes of disorder we witnessed by the far-right at the Cenotaph are a direct result of the Home Secretary’s words. The police’s job has been made much harder.

‘The Met have my full support to take action against anyone found spreading hate and breaking the law.’

Layla Moran, a Liberal Democrat MP who has family in Gaza, laid blame for any trouble caused by the right-wing mob at the Prime Minister’s door.

She tweeted: ‘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’.

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf said Mrs Braverman had encouraged them with her inflammatory rhetoric.

Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said that hundreds of counter-protest demonstrators had arrived this morning and ‘seemed intent on confrontation and intent on violence’

A man lies on the ground after allegedly being assaulted while attending a pro-Palestine protest

A right-wing protester is detained by police officers in central London

Police have made more than 90 arrests of protesters involved in right-wing demonstrations on Saturday

Stewards for the pro-Palestine protest attempt to separate marchers from far-right activists

Several hundred protesters, almost all of them men, were heard chanting and attempting to get close to the Cenotaph

A man is arrested by police in Whitehall after protests earlier today

Many of the thugs wore masks and balaclavas to conceal their faces

A group of right-wing protesters gather on Whitehall ahead of a large pro Palestine demonstration in Central London

He 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.’

It comes after fights broke out as far-right figure Tommy Robinson and hundreds of his supporters arrived in Whitehall on Saturday as police officers tried to maintain a ring of steel around the Cenotaph ahead of a huge march in solidarity with Palestinians. 

As chants of ‘England till I die’ and ‘Let us through’ echoed close to the war memorial police reinforcements raced to contain the mob as they jostled to be allowed to join the large crowds gathered. 

Dozens broke through a human barrier which appeared to be directly outside Scotland Yard, and police could be seen hitting out at those through with batons, as some of those gathered threw bottles towards officers. 

Far-right figure Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, and his supporters were heard chanting football-style cheers as they overwhelmed police outside the Met’s HQ and flooded onto Whitehall – just minutes before 11am.

Photographs showed protesters unfurled banners reading ‘it’s not Pro-Palestine, it’s anti-British’ during the two-minute silence. No pro-Palestine protesters were anywhere in sight. As it came to a close, protesters chanted ‘England, England’.

Shortly afterwards, the Met Police, which has deployed almost 2,000 officers, released a statement saying it had ‘faced aggression’ from ‘counter-protesters’ and would ‘use all the powers and tactics available to us’ to prevent them from confronting the main pro-Palestine march later.

They added that one of the groups of protesters then headed towards London’s Chinatown, where they ‘confronted and threw missiles at officers who tried to engage with them’.

Video footage showed masked men yelling and swearing at police officers dressed in riot gear as they chanted: ‘You’re not English anymore’.

Two police officers detain a man in central London close to the pro-Palestine march following clashes with right-wing demonstrators

Supporters of Tommy Robinson amass near to the Cenotaph ahead of the two-minute silence

Riot police officers walk at The Mall as pro-Palestine activists march through London today

A police officer struggled with a right-wing protester close to the main pro-Palestine march

Demonstrators clash with police in Chinatown as tensions flare on Armistice Day

Aerial view showing pro-Palestine protests in Central London today at 12.21pm

People march in Hyde Park to support Palestine amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza

Police managed to disperse the crowd, splitting them into two smaller groups which were seen running in the direction of Piccadilly Circus. A man was arrested on suspicion of possession of a knife.

A second man has been arrested. He was found in possession of a baton.

Police made at least two arrests close to The Millenium Bridge as the Tommy Robinson supporters dispersed.

The two men were seen in handcuffs surrounded by officers. Four tactical support vans were parked alongside the dozen officers.

Police units kept watch over the far-right mob throughout the afternoon to make sure they did not attempt to travel across London to the pro Palestine March headed from Hyde Park to the US Embassy in Battersea.

Shortly before the incident, far-right thug Tommy Robinson left the scene in a taxi after earlier leading hundreds of people as they massed at barriers in Whitehall.

As chants echoed around the area police reinforcements raced to contain the mob as they jostled to be allowed to join the large crowds gathered at The Cenotaph.

Dozens of officers formed a human barrier to stop them entering the exclusion zone set up ahead of the Armistice Day ceremony, but protesters eventually broke through.

The large crowd of people bearing St George’s flags was seen walking along Embankment and shouting ‘England till I die’.

A line of police attempted to stop them from reaching Whitehall but the group pushed through, with some shouting ‘let’s have them’ as officers hit out with batons.

Military veterans appeared displeased and looked on in disgust as hundreds of people taunted police and shouted out ‘we want our country back’. Some of the mob climbed on a statue to Field Marshall Montgomery outside the Ministry of Defence building.

Pictures showed Tommy Robinson speaking with several police officers. Police equipped with riot helmets kept watch on the group who waved Union Jack and cross of St George flags during the two-minute silence.

As a bugler signalled the end of the silence applause followed by chants of ‘England’ erupted from a section of the crowd. This ended as the wreath laying ceremony began.

Before the ceremony had ended many of the far right supporters had left and walked towards Trafalgar Square. Later Veterans spoke of their anger and disgust at their attendance on the solemn occasion.

Tommy Robinson with his supporters in London’s Chinatown ahead of a pro-Palestinian protest march

Protesters shove their way through a human barrier of police officers as they demanded to be allowed access to the Cenotaph

Police officers take their places around Whitehall ahead of the two-minute silence

Some protesters through bottles towards police officers as they forced their way through barriers

Protesters chanted ‘England till I die’ and ‘You’re not English anymore’ at police officers

Pictures showed Tommy Robinson speaking with several police officers at Whitehall

Flag waving protesters join the crowds waiting to view the two minute’s silence near to the Cenotaph on Whitehall

Right-wing protesters unfurled banners criticising the pro-Palestine march during the two-minutes silence despite the fact that no pro-Palestinian protesters could be seen

Officers walk close to Whitehall as they monitor the arrival of several hundred protesters let by Tommy Robinson

Police officers attempted to form a human wall to prevent Robinson and his supporters from reaching the Cenotaph

Early on Saturday leaflets claiming that terror group Hamas are a ‘resistance’ movement could be bought by pro-Palestinian protesters in London

A sign is seen on the top deck of a London bus carrying the controversial slogan: ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’

Police officers were standing guard at the Cenotaph early on Saturday as the Met braces itself for a day of action on Remembrance Day

Officers from the Metropolitan Police on duty at the Cenotaph on Whitehall in Central London ahead of a pro Palestine demonstration in the capital on Armistice Day

Early on Saturday people took to social media to show coaches full of protesters heading to London

Videos shared on social media showed full coaches of people heading to London


Protest organisers from London have planned to take activists to the capital on buses for the ‘Million March’ 

Former army sergeant James Fillery said: ‘I am glad that they didn’t disrupt the silence. That would have been so disrespectful.

‘I think many of them thought this was some kind of football match with all their chants. I just thought they were idiots, and I doubt they would have had the guts to serve their country.’

A former military policeman, who gave his name as Rick, said: ‘They are not people. I’m here to pay tribute and remember those who sacrificed their life so that they could be here. It is always a very emotional day, and I just want to focus on the act of remembrance.

Meanwhile thousands of people gathered across the city in Hyde Park ahead of this afternoon’s march in solidarity with the people of Palestine. 

Many were carrying Palestinian flags while others clutch placards emblazoned with slogans such as ‘free Palestine’, ‘hands of al Aqsa’, ‘end Israeli apartheid’ and ‘end the siege’ and ‘baby killer Biden stop arming Israel’. 

Previous marches in support of Palestine have been largely peaceful as activists call for an immediate ceasefire to protect the lives of innocent Palestinian civilians – a call echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron last night. 

A statement from the Met read: ‘While the two minutes’ silence was marked respectfully and without incident on Whitehall, officers have faced aggression from counter protestors who are in the area in significant numbers. 

‘The counter protestors are not one cohesive group. There are different groups moving away from Whitehall towards other parts of central London. Officers are keeping track of them as they do. 

‘If their intention is to confront the main protest departing later today from Park Lane, we will use all the powers and tactics available to us to prevent that from happening.’

Leaders of the Palestine demonstration claimed entire fleets of coaches were driving to the capital.

The Palestinian health authority run by terror group Hamas says that more than 11,000 people, including 4,500 children, have so far been killed in Israeli retaliation since their gunmen launched an unprecedented assault on the nation, killing at least 1,400 people.

On Saturday morning it was reported that Gaza’s largest hospital, Al Shifa, had completely shutdown operations after running out of fuel. It is feared dozens of people may die as a result. 

It was claimed on Saturday that a coach firm in the north of England has had its entire 250-strong bus fleet booked out this weekend to ferry people down to London to participate in the Gaza protest. 

It comes as British Transport Police announced restrictions on planned protests at major London stations which mean anyone gathering at London Waterloo, London Victoria and Charing Cross stations could face arrest. 

The BTP issued a Section 14a under the Public Order Act 1986 which prohibits ‘trespassory’ assemblies from taking place. 

In a statement the force said: ‘We have been made aware of planned demonstrations taking place today, Saturday 11 November, at London Waterloo Station, Victoria Station and Charing Cross.

‘We fully respect the right of people to protest lawfully but where we believe this could cause serious disruption to the railway services, we must take action.’ 

It added that anyone who ‘organises or takes part in an assembly during the prohibition commits an offence.’ 

Speaking to the Today programme on Saturday morning, head of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Ben Jamal said organisers were expecting up to a million people to descend on the streets of London.

Officers guard the Cenotaph ahead of Armistice Day events on Saturday morning

Police officers speak together at the Cenotaph, the national War Memorial

A large police presence was visible on Whitehall early on Saturday morning

Police guard a statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square

The Cenotaph is under armed guard in an unprecedented show of security on Saturday

Military cadets salute as they rehearse wreath laying near the Cenotaph on Whitehall in Central London

Mr Jamal said: ‘We are on the brink of a major catastrophe [in Gaza]. People are marching peacefully calling for an end to this. We live in a really topsy-turvy world where people marching for peace are being defined by our PM and our Home Sec as extremists and hate speakers.’

What is ‘intifada’? 

Intifada is a term commonly used in association with Palestinians and the state of Israel. It means uprising or rebellion.

There have been two famous intifadas, or uprisings, against Israel in Palestine. 

The first in the late 1980s saw peaceful actions such as mass boycotts and some more violent attacks on Israelis.

The second, which grew out of the 2000 peace process, was far more violent and involved Palestinian tactics such as suicide bombings and rocket attacks.

Around 1,000 Israelis and 3,200 Palestinians were killed by the time peace returned in 2005.

He accused her of whipping up fear, saying the PSC had been clear with police weeks ago that they did not plan to disrupt Armistice Day events: ‘It is inconceivable unless she doesn’t speak to the police that she didn’t know that when she made her remarks. 

‘She has described that what is going to be happening today as thousands of people as hate speakers, extremists, marching to Whitehall to desecrate the cenotaph.’

He added that statements by the Home Secretary which have referred to the marches as ‘hate marches’ are ‘absolutely disgraceful and demonstrate her own unfitness for office.’

Mr Jamal also accused authorities of ‘reframing language’ to suggest people mentioning ‘intifada’ care calling for a violent uprising, something he says is not the case.

‘Intifada doesn’t mean a violent uprising. This is an attempt to reframe language. Intifada is a word that means shaking off it is a word that means shaking off and standing against military occupation.’

He added that he has not seen or heard of a single placard advocating support of Hamas.

But by 10.30am on Saturday a vile leaflet which praises Hamas was already on sale to protesters.

The pamphlet described the terror group as a ‘resistance movement’.

It says it shows ‘unconditional’ support for Hamas, said it won ‘wide popularity’ among Palestinians and went on to say: ‘We consider Hamas to be a resistance movement against Zionism and imperialism.

‘From this perspective we unconditionally support Hamas when it is engaged in military or non-military struggles against Israel.’

It also described its fighters as having ‘extortionary heroism’ in the leaflet which was freely handed out at a Socialist Worker stand.

It was in the booklet, with the title ‘A revolutionary perspective on Hamas’, written by Mostafa Omar, of the Revolutionary Socialists, Egypt. It was first written in July 2014.

Hamas is a banned terrorist organisation in Britain.

This morning police cleared one side of Whitehall so those attending the Armistice Day event were all lined up behind one set of barriers.

No one was allowed to gather outside the gates of Downing Street where four armed police stood behind the metal gates.

With just over two hours before the ceremony was scheduled to begin about 250 people stood opposite The Cenotaph. 

Outside the Israeli embassy on Saturday officers were constructing a ‘ring of steel’ using concrete blocks

Leader of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Ben Jamal told the Today programme that intifada is not a call for ‘violent uprising’

A police officer stands guard near Whitehall on the day of a demonstration in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza

Photographs on social media showed protesters heading to London on Saturday

The Rev Tim Daylin, who lost his niece in the 7/7 bombings, was among those at the Cenotaph this morning

On Friday night a group of health workers gathered outside Downing Street to call for a humanitarian ceasefire as they held posters with the names of colleagues killed in Gaza

There were no flags being displayed although one man stood out in a Union Jack jacket.

A group of burly looking men all dressed in black had initially joined the early morning crowds but walked off towards Trafalgar Square. They declined to comment when approached.

Others taking their place opposite The Cenotaph included The Rev Tim Daylin.

He said he will later be joining the Palestine marchers setting off from Hyde Park after laying flowers at the memorial to those who died in the 7/7 terror attack. His niece Elizabeth died in the attack on a London bus in Russell Square.

The Rev Daplin said:’ I am here to remember two of my friends who did not come back from serving in Northern Ireland.

‘I will then go to the Hyde Park memorial to the 7/7 bombing. My niece Elizabeth was among those killed. I will then join the other marchers.

‘If an old soldier cannot call for peace on a day like this, then there is something wrong.’

The Rev Daplin, from Bristol, said he had been dismayed at all the political gesturing in the days leading up to Armistice Day.

‘It is a day for all of us to reflect and to remember those who died,’ he said.

Metal barriers lined the entire length of Whitehall with dozens of officers stationed around Parliament Square. The ring of steel will remain in place until the events of Remembrance Sunday have taken place.

Yesterday Far-Right groups sent a chilling message to protesters, warning on vile WhatsApp groups with more than 1,000 members: ‘We’ll be waiting.’ 

The Hope Not Hate (HNH) campaign group yesterday exposed dozens of racist WhatsApp messages which included plans to ambush activists and links to buying crossbows. 

HNH, who reported the messages to the police, also found posts calling Muslims ‘vermin’. Others wrote vile threats of violence and warned: ‘It’s war. For our children and country.’

On Friday night, the Met Police warned that Armistice Day could get ‘messy’ as officers begun an unprecedented round-the-clock guard of the Cenotaph.

A small group of health worker protesters gathered outside Downing Street to call for a ceasefire after it was reported that Israel had surrounded Gaza’s largest hospital, Al Shifa.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made an 11th hour plea for ‘unity’ amid fears of violence and disorder.

Met Police deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor, who is in charge of the ‘large and robust policing plan’, told reporters at a briefing on the eve of Armistice Day: ‘There will be times this weekend where you see pockets of confrontation…’

He added: ‘You will see police intervention, and I hope we don’t but I think it’s likely you will see police having to use force to manage some of the situations that we have to deal with, and at times that might look messy.

‘That doesn’t equate to serious disorder or to us losing control, but it does mean that we are taking robust, rapid and agile action to deal with what we are dealing with.’

Children cry during a funeral for family members in Gaza who were killed in Israeli strikes

A woman and a child look out from the window of a damaged building following Israeli bombing on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday

Israel bombards the Gaza Strip with missiles overnight on Friday

Far-Right groups have vowed ‘We’ll be waiting’ as pro-Palestine activists arrive in London today

Activists from right-wing Turning Point UK hold a counter-protest to the National March for Palestine alongside the Cenotaph on October 28. Far-Right groups have vowed to protect the Cenotaph today

Metropolitan Police officers standing guard around the Cenotaph in Whitehall on Friday afternoon 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (pictured at the Remembrance Crosses in the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey) has made an 11th hour plea for ‘unity’ amid fears of violence and disorder

In a last-gasp plea for a ‘moment of unity’, Mr Sunak warned commemorations are ‘sacred’ and such rallies can take place only because of those who fought ‘for the freedom we cherish’.

Mr Sunak said: ‘This weekend people across the United Kingdom will stand together in quiet reflection to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Veterans, loved ones of those who gave their lives for their country and many more of us will want to honour this moment.

READ MORE: Suella Braverman offers her ‘full backing’ to the Met Police after newspaper article row and ahead of pro-Palestinian march on Armistice Day

‘This act of remembrance is fundamental to who we are as a country and I want to reassure those wishing to pay their respects, attend services and travel that they can and should do so.’

He added: ‘It is because of those who fought for this country and for the freedom we cherish that those who wish to protest can do so, but they must do so respectfully and peacefully.

‘This weekend should be about the selfless bravery of our Armed Forces. We shall remember them.’

The Met has mobilised 1,850 officers from London and other UK forces as it prepares to control hundreds of thousands of protesters pouring into London as pro-Palestine activists call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

Asked why the force has doubled the number of officers on the ground compared to the first weekend of protests, DAC Laurence Taylor said: ‘This is a really difficult weekend for policing. 

‘We have got a significant march taking place. We are aware there will be counter-protests, as well as a lot of people who would ordinarily come to London to mark their respect on Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday. That means we need a large and robust policing plan in place.’ 

In every effort to protect Armistice Day events, a ‘ring of steel’ has been erected around Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade and the Westminster Abbey Field of Remembrance. This will be protected by metal fences, with any marchers trying to get inside facing arrest. 

In contrast, those the Met consider ‘counter protesters’, who may include veterans, Right-wing extremists and football hooligans, will be allowed into those areas, principally to separate them from the pro-Palestinian march which has been redirected away from Whitehall towards Vauxhall. 

The unprecedented security around Britain’s most hallowed war memorial was put in place yesterday and will remain until the end of remembrance commemorations on Sunday

A dispersal zone will be in place covering key central London locations including Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. Anyone refusing to disperse can be arrested, the Met said

Exclusion zones have been put in place around the Israeli Embassy in Kensington and the US Embassy in Vauxhall 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty look at Remembrance Crosses in the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey in London ahead of Armistice Day

Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, joins poppy sellers on behalf of the Royal British Legion as the nation rallies around volunteers

DAC Taylor said the Met had information that ‘large numbers of counter protesters will be coming to London with a view to confronting those taking place in the main march’. 

READ MORE: Demonstrators blockade weapons manufacturer BAE Systems site in protest over Israel-Hamas war 

In the largest policing operation ever mounted for the commemorations, the capital will be flooded with almost 3,000 officers from across England and Wales. Chief constables have cancelled leave, extended overtime and drafted in 1,000 officers from outside London over the weekend to bolster Scotland Yard’s numbers across today and tomorrow.

Demonstrators will be banned from gathering outside the Israeli Embassy, while a dispersal order in place across a vast swathe of central London will allow police to arrest violent protesters breaking off from the main march. 

Officers will also be granted more powers to carry out stop and searchers and order people to remove masks. 

Meanwhile, the Met is deploying specialist traffic officers to police convoys of cars bringing protesters into the capital. Previous events have been marred by demonstrators driving through Jewish areas while waving flags and shouting anti-Semitic abuse. 

Britain’s biggest force has also vowed to work with the British Transport Police to protect poppy sellers in stations and other busy areas after several incidents of volunteers being abused. 

In a statement released on Friday, the Met rallied around volunteers, saying: ‘We have been clear no intimidation of those who so generously give up their time for this treasured national cause will be tolerated. Officers know the risk felt by sellers and should be sought out by anyone concerned throughout the weekend.’

The Met also declared that it was doing ‘everything’ in its power to ensure Jewish Londoners feel safe during the pro-Palestine protest. 

DAC Taylor warned anyone calling for ‘jihad’ faced being arrested and said the force’s stance towards protesters had hardened following similar mass marches over the past month, when it was criticised for failing to stop anti-Semitism in the wake of the October 7 Hamas terror attack that took 1,400 Israeli lives. 

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has estimated half a million activists will take part in the march from Hyde Park at 1pm, a few hours after a two-minute silence will be held at the Cenotaph in Westminster for fallen soldiers.

Protective barriers around the ‘Remembrance Sunday footprint’ in Whitehall have been extended far wider than normal.

The Stop the War coalition said coach companies across the country are reporting that all their vehicles are fully booked, with waiting lists in some areas.

John Rees, from the group, said the protest in London will be ‘truly historic’, exceeding the half a million he believes joined a previous protest in the capital.

‘We are convinced it will be the biggest demonstration so far over Palestine,’ he said. Our local groups up and down the country have reported they’ve sold out of seats on hundreds of coaches.’

Lindsey German, the group’s convenor, said: ‘Our local groups in towns and cities across the UK, along with coach companies, are telling us that every one of their coaches have been booked to bring people to London. This is comparable only to two million strong protest against the Iraq War in 2003.’

Sir Mark said officers would ‘protect locations and events of national importance at all costs’. Pictured: Police officers guard ‘The Cenotaph’ on October 28

Met Police chief Sir Mark Rowley has refused to ban the controversial rally, saying he legally had ‘no power’ to stop it. 

While march organisers have vowed not to go near the monument, there are fears splinter groups could clash with football hooligans who have vowed to ‘defend’ it. 

Sir Mark said his officers would ‘protect locations and events of national importance at all costs’. He said he could not ban Saturday’s demonstration simply because people felt it should not take place.

‘The laws created by Parliament are clear. There is no absolute power to ban protest, therefore there will be a protest this weekend,’ he insisted.

‘The law provides no mechanism to ban a static gathering of people. It contains legislation which allows us to impose conditions to reduce disruption and the risk of violence, and in the most extreme cases when no other tactics can work, for marches or moving protests to be banned.’

Sir Mark said organisers of Saturday’s march had shown ‘complete willingness to stay away from the Cenotaph and Whitehall and have no intention of disrupting the nation’s remembrance events’.

‘Should this change, we’ve been clear we will use powers and conditions available to us to protect locations and events of national importance at all costs,’ he said.

The decision to allow the protest to take place prompted accusations of bias from Home Secretary Suella Braverman. But on Friday, she gave the police her ‘full backing’ at a meeting with the commissioner.

DAC Taylor said this was the first time there had been a 24-hour guard around the Cenotaph for ‘this length of time’. This was in response to the attack on the Cenotaph in Rochdale just days before Armistice Day which sparked outrage.

When quizzed on whether comments from politicians had raised the risk of disorder, he added: ‘This weekend is going to be tense. Narratives play into that. We won’t comment on individual narratives.’

Police guarding the Cenotaph this morning. The Met has vowed to ‘protect locations and events of national importance at all costs’

Sir Mark Rowley said use of the power to block moving protests is ‘incredibly rare’ and must be reserved for cases where there is intelligence to suggest a ‘real threat’ of serious disorder. Pictured: Poppy vendor counter is disturbed by pro-Palestinian demonstrators

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has called for calm, with a veiled swipe at Suella Braverman for inflaming tensions ahead of protests on Armistice Day. She tweeted: ‘Some disgraceful scenes this morning. We urge everyone to respect the police & each other & exercise calm.

‘Everyone must reflect on the impact of their words & actions. It is the responsibility of all of us to bring people together over this weekend not divide and inflame.’

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf has now called on the Home Secretary to resign for ’emboldening’ the far right. He said this morning: ‘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.’

Gangs of football hooligans have said they are planning to ‘team up’ and ‘protect’ the Cenotaph from pro-Palestine protesters this weekend.

One group, named ‘Football Lads Against Extremism’, claims veterans have reached out and asked for their support ‘due to the threat from the far-Left and pro-Palestine supporters to disrupt the Remembrance Day parade’.

READ MORE – Suella Braverman breaks cover as Tories demand she is sacked

They are calling on ‘all football lads up and down the country to join us in standing shoulder to shoulder with our veterans that fought for our freedom’.

Ms Braverman had controversially accused the police of ‘playing favourites’ with protesters by clamping down hard on Right-wing demonstrations while taking a softly-softly approach to those organised by groups on the Left.

In an article in The Times, she repeated her description of pro-Palestinian demonstrations as ‘hate marches’ – a phrase no other minister had publicly endorsed, but which supporters say is backed up by examples of ugly anti-Semitism on previous protests.

Earlier in the week Rishi Sunak took a more measured tone insisting that he would hold Sir Mark ‘accountable’ for what happened at the protest. 

A policeman holding a surveillance camera while shouting at a protestor during a pro-Palestine march on November 4

The Home Secretary expressed her support for the Metropolitan Police at a meeting with Sir Mark Rowley yesterday, a source close to her said. 

Mr Sunak continued to express his confidence in her, but No 10 declined to say whether they had spoken since her inflammatory unauthorised article in The Times. 

No 10 said they were working ‘very closely’ ahead of Saturday’s heavily-policed march, but chose not to repeat her widely-criticised language in a piece for The Times. 

Yesterday, the source close to Ms Braverman said: ‘The Home Secretary and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police met this afternoon to discuss the policing of demonstrations to be held tomorrow, on Armistice Day. 

‘The Commissioner outlined plans to continue working to maintain public order, ensure compliance with the law and maintain the safety of participants, police officers and the general public. 

‘The Home Secretary emphasised her full backing for the police in what will be a complex and challenging situation and expressed confidence that any criminality will be dealt with robustly.’ 

Ms Braverman (pictured leaving home yesterday morning) yesterday gave police her ‘full backing’ after her widely-criticised allegations of police bias were disowned by Downing Street

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty observe the Remembrance Crosses during a visit to the Field of Remembrance

Rishi Sunak talks with a supporter of the Royal British Legion in the QEII centre ahead of Armistice Day

Steve Hartshorn, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank and file officers, said it was unacceptable for Ms Braverman ‘to publicly attempt to tamper with the operational independence of policing’.

‘It is entirely reasonable that the Home Secretary might raise concerns with senior police leaders in private, it is unacceptable to publicly attempt to tamper with the operational independence of policing,’ he said. 

‘Policing must be free of politics. Operational independence is a key pillar of UK policing and must be respected. Policing does not comment on political manoeuvrings, and we expect to be able to carry out our duties without political interference.’ 

A former Home Office permanent secretary said he did not understand how Mr Sunak could continue to have confidence in Ms Braverman.

Metropolitan Police officers guard the Cenotaph in Whitehall ahead of Armistice Day tomorrow

Metropolitan Police officers guard the Cenotaph in Whitehall amid fears of vandalism

Sir David Normington told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: ‘There are 2,000 ordinary police officers who will be on the streets doing a very difficult job this weekend. 

‘They have the right to expect the Home Secretary to be supporting them. Instead, she seems to be undermining them and actually making things worse. And that’s just not the job of the Home Secretary. 

‘I hear the Prime Minister has confidence in her. I don’t know how he can.’ The ex-mandarin said he ‘despaired’ about her piece for The Times. 

He said: ‘She’s tried to interfere with the operational independence of the police. She’s accused them of partiality in the way they police demonstrations. She’s used inflammatory language. She’s even made some absolutely crass comments and comparisons about Northern Ireland.

‘That’s at least four reasons why she’s unsuitable to be Home Secretary.’ 

In a lengthy briefing Friday, the Met Police also vowed to protect defiant poppy sellers who are refusing to abandon their stalls ahead of planned pro-Palestine protests on Armistice Day.

Officers said they will be on hand to monitor the intimidation of ‘generous’ poppy sellers after concerns were raised over their safety in the last week. 

Stalls were missing at Kings Cross, Euston, Victoria, London Bridge and other railway hubs this week despite it being days before Armistice Day.

The Royal British Legion has said that they are ‘keen to get on with collecting’ and their merry band of volunteers feel the same, insisting that all stations will now be manned until November 11.

Tracy Cooper (right), 65, who has sold poppies in Paddington Station for 22 years, urged other poppy sellers to ‘go out and sell your poppy with pride’. She was helped by Nicky Veschiera, 60, (left) and her friend Audrey, also 60 (centre)

Jane Low, 80, and Maggie Davies, 80, (left to right) man the stall at High Street Kensington. They raked in £700 in two hours yesterday

Poppy sellers have told MailOnline that they will be not be cowed by the threat of protests, although three out of four at St Pancras last night were wearing bodycams in case there is trouble.

Many thanked people for their support as MPs urged Britons – and police officers – to wear poppies ‘with pride’ and in ‘solidarity’.

The RBL has said it is working closely with Network Rail, Transport for London, major supermarkets and the police to keep volunteers safe. They also spoke of safety measures but did not expand on those.

A spokesman said: ‘We have thousands of brilliant individuals who volunteer to collect donations for the Poppy Appeal each year, across cities, towns, villages and communities. We are reliant on the generous time these volunteers offer and we arrange Poppy Appeal collections as widely as possible but cannot provide volunteer cover at all locations throughout the whole appeal.

‘The safety of all Poppy Appeal volunteers is our number one priority. We have permission to collect at every location where Poppy Appeal volunteers are collecting, and assess those locations have measures in place to ensure the safety of our volunteers.’

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