UK PM Sunak did not approve interior minister’s article on protests – spokesperson

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak did not approve a newspaper article by interior minister Suella Braverman where she escalated a row with police over the handling of pro-Palestinian marches this weekend, his spokesperson said.

Plans for a demonstration in London on Saturday’s Armistice Day has sparked a row between government and police, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying he would hold the force accountable for any trouble after it said there was not enough reason to ban it.

In an article in the Times, Braverman said that there was a perception the police “play favourites” with protestors. She has previously called pro-Palestinian rallies “hate marches”.

“It was not agreed by Number 10,” the spokesperson said of the article on Thursday, referring to Sunak’s Downing Street office. Asked if the PM still had confidence in Braverman, the spokesperson said “Yes”.

“We’re looking into the details of what happened in this specific incident,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said that Sunak has faith in the police that they will operate without fear or favour, adding that there was an established process for ministers to follow in media interactions.

The ministerial code states that ministers can contribute to a newspaper if the article is not at variance with their duty to collective responsibility for government policy.

It also says major interviews and media appearances should be agreed with Sunak’s office.

Asked if the article was government policy, the spokesperson said: “I don’t think its intention was to set out a policy position. I think that the policy positions have not changed”.

(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill and Alistair Smout; editing by Sarah Young)