Rishi Sunak Addressed The Nation Outside No.10 – And Said Very Little

Prime minister deployed the power of the office on Friday night to denounce extremism, but only offered a "robust framework" to tackle it.
Rishi Sunak gives a speech at Downing Street.
Rishi Sunak gives a speech at Downing Street.
Carl Court via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak has used a “lectern speech” outside the doors of No.10 Downing Street to condemn extremists “trying to tear us apart” – but offered little by way of a policy solution.

Westminster was buzzing as the prime minister announced he would make an unexpected Friday night address – with the prospect he was about to call a general election swiftly ruled out.

Instead, Sunak’s addressed the nation on tackling the unrest in Britain in the aftermath of the October 7 attacks by Hamas against Israel – a situation the PM had likened to “mob rule” in a statement earlier in the week.

Against the backdrop of the No.10 front door, Sunak warned “our democracy itself is a target” for extremists.

He continued: “In recent weeks and months, we have seen a shocking increase in extremist disruption and criminality.

“What started as protests on our streets have descended into intimidation, threats and planned acts of violence.

“Jewish children, fearful to wear their school uniform lest it reveals their identity. Muslim women abused in the street for the actions of a terrorist group they have no connection with.

“Now our democracy itself is a target. Council meetings and local events have been stormed. MPs do not feel safe in their homes. Long-standing parliamentary conventions have been upended because of safety concerns.

“And it’s beyond alarming that last night, the Rochdale by-election returned a candidate that dismisses the horror of what happened on October 7, who glorifies Hezbollah and is endorsed by Nick Griffin, the racist former leader of the BNP.”

The latter part of the statement alludes to the victory of George Galloway in the Rochdale by-election.

Sunak was vague, however, on how his government would take action to deal with the problem, alluding only to a “new robust framework” to tackle the “root causes” of extremism and “asking more of the police”.

The speech came at the end of another rancorous week for British politics.

On Wednesday, Sunak claimed that there is a “growing consensus that mob rule is replacing democratic rule” in the UK, but Downing Street failed to provide any evidence for the extraordinary allegation.

In another controversy, Lee Anderson, the former Tory party chairman, claimed policing of the largely peaceful demonstrations showed that “Islamists” had “control” over London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, who is Muslim. Anderson had the Tory whip removed last weekend after he chose not to apologise for the comments, and spent this week rowing back from his original “little bit of contrition”.

On Friday, Galloway, the former Labour MP, claimed a stunning victory in the Rochdale by-election on the back of a pro-Palestine ticket and a disastrous Labour campaign that saw the party drop support for their candidate after he made comments branded anti-Semitic.

Following the speech, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said: “The British people will take no lessons from a prime minister and Conservative party who have sowed the seeds of division for years.

“This is the same prime minister who made Suella Braverman his home secretary and Lee Anderson his party’s deputy chairman.

“If the prime minister is serious about bringing people together, he would call a general election now, so that the British public can decide the future of our country.”


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