8 June 2020 | UK NEWS
Leading figures within the government have spoken out after Black Lives Matter protests across the country, including in Westminster, turned violent over the weekend.
Boris Johnson’s Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement that the Prime Minister believes Britain is not a racist country, backing the police to arrest any Black Lives Matter supporter who attacked officers or defaced statues.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has also come out and vowed to bring violent Black Lives Matter protesters “to justice”.
The Downing Street spokesperson said: “The PM doesn’t doubt that there continues to be discrimination and racism, but does not agree that this is a racist country. We have made very significant progress on this issue, but there remains more to do and we will not be complacent in our efforts to stamp out racism and discrimination where it happens.”
On the issue of the Edward Colston statue being pulled down in Bristol, he said: “People can campaign for the removal of a statue, but what happened yesterday was a criminal act and when the criminal law is broken that is unacceptable, and the police will want to hold to account those responsible”.
Mr Johnson condemned the violence himself on Twitter, writing: “People have a right to protest peacefully & while observing social distancing but they have no right to attack the police. These demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery – and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve. Those responsible will be held to account.”
The Home Secretary further strengthened the Prime Minister’s comments in the House of Commons, saying: “I think that is utterly disgraceful. That speaks to the acts of public disorder that actually have become a distraction from the cause that people are actually protesting.
“Sheer vandalism and disorder is completely unacceptable and it’s right the police follow up on that and make sure justice is undertaken.”
On the issue of the Edward Colston statue, Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer responded by saying: “It shouldn’t have been done in that way, completely wrong to pull a statue down like that. Stepping back, that statue should have been taken down a long, long time ago. We can’t, in 21st-century Britain, have a slaver on a statue. A statue is there to honour people.
“That statue should have been brought down properly, with consent, and put, I would say, in a museum.”
The Prime Minister has also made a video statement on the matter, which can be watched here: