Downing Street Fails To Provide Evidence To Back Up Rishi Sunak's 'Mob Rule' Claim

"Is the consensus in the room with us right now?"
Rishi Sunak made the startling claim at a meeting with police chiefs.
Rishi Sunak made the startling claim at a meeting with police chiefs.
Anadolu via Getty Images

Downing Street has failed to provide any evidence to back up Rishi Sunak’s claim that there is a “growing consensus that mob rule is replacing democratic rule” in the UK.

The prime minister made the extraordinary allegation as he met with police leaders to discuss the wave of protests which have taken place over the war between Israel and Hamas.

At a briefing for political journalists this morning, the PM’s spokesman was repeatedly asked what Sunak had based his claims on.

While he was able to point to specific examples of disruption caused by protesters, he could not explain why the prime minister believes most people now believe Britain’s entire political system is now under threat from lawless groups.

The spokesman said: “In recent months we’ve witnessed attempts to hijack legitimate protest and subvert the democratic process, MPs have been threatened and had their family homes targeted, council meetings have been repeatedly disrupted and in some cases abandoned, constituency fundraisers have been over-run.

“The PM was also referring to incidents like the blocking of Tower Bridge by protests last weekend, anti-Semitic projections on the Palace of Westminster and the intimidation of MPs and others around votes in parliament on the Israel and Gaza conflict.

“It is obviously right in that context that the PM announce further funding yesterday and met with police chiefs to agree a new policing protocol to protect the UK’s democratic processes from disruption.”

Asked where there was consensus about “mob rule replacing democratic rule”, the spokesman simply repeated the examples of disruption that he had previously mentioned.

He added: “The PM is merely highlighting those concerns and being clear that it’s part of the government’s job to work with the police to ensure they have the power and the resources they need to tackle violence, intimidation and disruption.”

One reporter asked the spokesman: “Where is the consensus? No one has ever said that apart from him.”

The spokesman replied: “I have spoken at length about events that the public and society, MPs, communities have experienced and witnessed over weeks and months.

“That experience has informed the PM’s language and the action that he took yesterday.”

Asked for evidence of the growing consensus, the spokesman said: “The evidence for that is the events that have taken place.”

He was also asked to provide examples of people or groups who are part of the supposed “consensus” and replied: “I’m not going to seek to name individuals.

“You have seen comments made by MPs in public about the intimidation they have faced and their families have faced. You would be able to speak to people who over the last weeks and months have experienced council meetings being disrupted and abandoned, fundraisers being over-run, family homes being targeted.

“There’s a wide range of people you could speak to to get their views on that consensus.”

A press release issued by No.10 last night said the PM had told police leaders: “There is a growing consensus that mob rule is replacing democratic rule. And we’ve got to collectively, all of us, change that urgently.”

The Tory leader continued: “We also need to demonstrate more broadly to the public that [the police] 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 expect. It is fundamental to our democratic system. And also it is vital for maintaining public confidence in the police.”

Former Metropolitan Police chief superintendent Dal Babu today condemned the PM over his remarks.

He told Radio 4′s Today programme: “Language is important. I don’t think that kind of language is helpful.

“We’ve heard Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, talk about hate marches.

“If you’re going to appeal to people to demonstrate less, you’re actually going to have unintended consequences in which more people come out and say ‘we’re not mob rule’.”

Social media was also unimpressed by the Downing Street spokesman’s answers.


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