Counter protesters arriving in Whitehall, central London (Picture: PA)
Police have warned any groups of far-right counter-protesters heading towards the planned pro-Palestine march in central London they will use ‘all powers available to stop that happening’.
More than a dozen reinforcements were deployed and formed a human barrier as some in the group tried to break through the barricade guarding the memorial.
The group, shouting ‘you’re not English anymore’ and ‘we want our country back’, then splintered off, with officers pelted with missiles while attempting to engage them in nearby Chinatown.
Tourists milling around the area oblivious to the demonstrations and shocked by the heavy police presence asked whether there had been a terror attack.
The Met later said officers had detained a ‘large group’ of counter-protesters near Westminster Bridge, adding: ‘It is believed they are part of the group involved in the disorder earlier.’
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Tommy Robinson attends the Armitice Minute’s Silence at the Cenotaph in Whitehall today (Picture: Justin Griffiths-Williams/Shutterstock)
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Police block the access to the Cenotaph where the Armistice Day service was taking place (Picture: EPA)
The Met Police posted on X, formerly Twitter: ‘While the two minutes’ silence was marked respectfully and without incident on Whitehall, officers have faced aggression from counter-protesters who are in the area in significant numbers.
‘The counter-protesters are not one cohesive group. There are different groups moving away from Whitehall towards other parts of central London. Officers are keeping track of them as they do.
‘If their intention is to confront the main protest departing later today from Park Lane, we will use all the powers and tactics available to us to prevent that from happening.’
English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson was seen walking from Whitehall in the direction of Hyde Park, where pro-Palestine groups are due to march.
Tommy Robinson speaks to police officers as he arrives at the Cenotaph in Whitehall (Picture: PA)
The far-right activist was spotted with a large group of people chanting: ‘England till I die’, and: ‘We love you, Tommy, we do’.
He later got into a taxi and drove away before the group continued marching towards Hyde Park and were met by riot police.
Around a mile away in Hyde Park the scene was more peaceful as hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters arrived near the starting point for today’s march.
Many were carrying Palestinian flags while others clutched placards emblazoned with slogans such as ‘free Palestine’, ‘hands of al Aqsa’, ‘end Israeli apartheid’ and ‘end the siege’.
Organisers of the demonstration calling for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel anticipate more than 500,000 people will join.
People gather ahead of the Pro-Palestinian march at Hyde Park in London (Picture: EPA)
The route for the march was changed to avoid any clashes with the commemorations for Armistice Day at the Cenotaph (Picture: EPA)
A woman with placards ahead of the Pro-Palestinian march in London (Picture: EPA)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak issued a plea for ‘unity’ amid tensions over the march on the day the UK marks the end of the First World War.
His Home Secretary Suella Braverman has been accused of ‘emboldening’ far-right protesters to attack police by Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf.
He tweeted: ‘The far-right has been emboldened by the Home Secretary. She has spent her week fanning the flames of division. They are now attacking the Police on Armistice Day.
‘The Home Secretary’s position is untenable. She must resign.’
She has been under fire from all sides after branding pro-Palestinian demonstrators ‘hate marchers’ and ‘Islamists’ intending to use Armistice Day to dominate the streets of London.
Her claims that police were biased for letting the march go ahead prompted widespread criticism and calls for Mr Sunak to sack her.
Layla Moran, a Liberal Democrat MP who has family in Gaza, laid blame for any trouble caused by counter-protesters at the Prime Minister’s door.
She tweeted: ‘As the police in central London work to contain the far-right, and everyone starts to blame Suella Braverman, just remember who chose to not only give her the job but also chose not to sack her.
‘Rishi Sunak is as, if not more, responsible for what happens today.’
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Scotland Yard said: ‘We will use all the powers and tactics available to us to prevent that from happening.’