Priti Patel lashed out at far right hooligans who attacked police in central London, accusing them today of ‘utterly indefensible hooliganism’ that left 38 officers injured.
The Home Secretary told the Commons she gave police her ‘full backing’ to tackle yobs responsible for violence scenes in Westminster on Saturday.
She accused ‘so-called protesters’ of acting with ‘the deliberate intent of causing harm to those around them and to police officers’.
Far from protecting the country’s heritage, Ms Patel said counter-demonstrators in Westminster on Saturday were ‘patently racist’ and ‘thugs’ and did ‘all that they could to destroy and undermine those values.
She singled out Andrew Banks, 28, who was today jailed for 14 days after admitting urinating next to the memorial for terror attack victim Pc Keith Palmer outside Parliament.
But in a heated debate in the House of Commons this afternoon Ms Patel again clashed with Labour MPs who have criticised her response to Black Lives Matter demonstrations around the nations.
She accused Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of failing to depart from the ‘divisive, hateful, racist politics’ of former leader Jeremy Corbyn by failing to censor backbenchers who accused her of ‘gaslighting’ black MPs.
Far from protecting the country’s heritage, Ms Patel said counter-demonstrators in Westminster on Saturday were ‘patently racist’ and ‘thugs’ and did ‘all that they could to destroy and undermine those values
She singled out Andrew Banks, 28, who was today jailed for 14 days after admitting urinating next to the memorial for terror attack victim Pc Keith Palmer outside Parliament
Banks (right), of Manor Road in Stansted, Essex, was imprisoned this morning after pleading guilty at Westminster Magistrates Court (left) to outraging public decency over an act which the district judge said drew ‘revulsion’ from the public
Discussing Saturday’s clashes, sparked by groups claiming to want to protect statues in the capital, Mr Patel said: ‘As this ugly operational picture demonstrates, many of the so-called protesters came with the deliberate intent of causing harm to those around them and to police officers.
‘This hooliganism is utterly indefensible. There can be no excuse for pelting police officers with missiles.
‘Of all the dreadful images to emerge from this weekend, the one of a man desecrating the plaque of Pc Keith Palmer was the most abhorrent.’
Pc Palmer, she said, ‘made the ultimate sacrifice’ during a terror attack ‘at the heart of our democracy’ adding ‘he will never be forgotten’.
Banks, of Manor Road in Stansted, Essex, was imprisoned this morning after pleading guilty to outraging public decency over an act which the district judge said drew ‘revulsion’ from the public.
Banks said he had been on an all-night drinking session in the capital and decided to join fellow football supporters travelling to London to ‘protect the statues’ – but admitted he did not know which statues.
MPs were told more than 210,000 people have attended demonstrations across the country following the death in the US of George Floyd, and at least 160 protests took place this weekend, with the vast majority passing peacefully.
But 2,000 people attended counter-protests in Westminster, sparking ‘ugly scenes’ and ‘eruptions of violence’ throughout the day.
Overall at least 100 officers have now been injured, as well as three horses and a police dog, while 280 arrests have been made, she said.
Ms Patel added: ‘My message today is a simple one – actions have consequences.
‘I want to see these vicious individuals held to account for the violence and the criminality that they perpetrate and I want to see them arrested and brought to justice.’
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said Labour would scrutinise Government proposals before adding: ‘There should be no attempt to draw comparisons between those intent on violence this weekend and the legitimate cause of the Black Lives Matter campaigners, who have brought attention to the impact that racism and inequality continues to have both here in the UK and across the world.
‘Now is the time for action.’
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: ‘There should be no attempt to draw comparisons between those intent on violence this weekend and the legitimate cause of the Black Lives Matter campaigners’
Last week 33 Labour MPs wrote tot eh Home Secretary after she clashed in the Commons with a group of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) Labour MPs who accused her of using her Indian heritage to cast doubt on black communities’ experience of racism.
The letter voiced ‘dismay at the way you used your heritage and experiences of racism to gaslight the very real racism faced by Black people and communities across the UK’.
This afternoon, Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan told the Commons: ‘The Home Secretary and I, along with other Conservative colleagues have been subject to torrents of hateful prejudice and frankly racist abuse from the Left’s legions outside, as well as in the case of my right honourable friend, sadly from sources on the benches opposite, as we refuse to conform to their prejudices.
‘Does the Home Secretary agree with me that the leader of the Opposition should condemn all these attacks and support the full weight of the law being applied equally to everyone no matter how righteous they believe their views are?’
Ms Patel replied: ‘He is absolutely right, we should be calling out collectively racist and intolerant behaviour and I am saddened that the leader of the Opposition (Sir Keir Starmer) has effectively failed to depart from the divisive, hateful, racist politics of its former leader.’