UK PM urges pro-Palestinian groups to scrap Armistice Day march

UK PM urges pro-Palestinian groups to scrap Armistice Day march
Much to the chagrin of the UK Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his hardline government, pro-Palestine protesters plan to go ahead with a march on Armistice Day to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.
2 min read
07 November, 2023
Protesters say Sunak has attempted to curtail their right to protest through his rhetoric over the planned Armistice day march [Getty]

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Tuesday urged pro-Palestinian groups to call off a march against the Israel's war  on Gaza scheduled to take place in London on Armistice Day.

The organisers of the rally have so far defied pleas from the British capital's Metropolitan police force to postpone the demonstration planned for this Saturday. Tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets to demand an immediate ceasefire as Israel continues to relentlessly bombard Gaza. 

"We continue to believe that planning protests on Armistice Day is provocative and disrespectful, and we urge organisers to reconsider," Sunak's spokesman told reporters. He added that the government would "carefully consider any application" from the police to stop the protest from going ahead.

But Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley said that according to the law, "there is no absolute power to ban protest," except in the most extreme cases.

"Therefore there will be a protest this weekend," he said in a statement.

"At this time, the intelligence surrounding the potential for serious disorder this weekend does not meet the threshold to apply for a ban," he added.

A number of senior members of Sunak's ruling Conservative party have expressed anger at plans for protests on November 11, commemorating the end of fighting in World War I, and the sacrifice of armed forces personnel in all conflicts since 1914.

Sunak's hardline interior minister Suella Braverman has even branded the protests "hate marches".

Protest groups have not indicated they plan to march on Remembrance Sunday, when solemn ceremonies and two minutes' silence are held at war memorials up and down the country.

But some fear their Saturday protest will disrupt Sunday's commemorations.

Organisers have vowed to avoid the Whitehall area of central London where the Cenotaph -- the focal point of Remembrance Sunday -- is located.

London has seen large demonstrations on four successive weekends since Israel began its attack on Gaza, with the Palestinian enclave's health ministry recording more than 10,300 deaths.

The Met has made dozens of arrests at the London protests, including for hate crimes. It warned this week: "The risk of violence and disorder linked to breakaway groups (at these protests) is growing.