‘Mob rule’ replacing democracy in Britain, warns PM Sunak

By Thomson Reuters Feb 28, 2024 | 1:24 PM

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is descending into “mob rule” and police will do more to protect the country’s democracy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday, after the government announced extra funding to keep lawmakers safe.

Many British lawmakers have said the abuse directed at them has become more intense since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that sparked the war in Gaza, with some fearing for their safety if they air their views on the conflict.

Last week parliament descended into chaos as tensions flared over a vote on Gaza, with the House of Commons speaker citing “frightening” threats against lawmakers for a decision to break with usual parliamentary procedure.

“There is a growing consensus that mob rule is replacing democratic rule. And we’ve got to collectively, all of us, change that urgently,” Sunak said at a meeting with police chiefs on Wednesday, according to remarks released by his office.

“We simply cannot allow this pattern of increasingly violent and intimidatory behaviour which is, as far as anyone can see, intended to shout down free debate and stop elected representatives doing their job. That is simply undemocratic.”

Earlier, the interior ministry announced funding worth 31 million pounds ($39 million) to provide additional security for lawmakers and other officials.

Sunak said a new Democratic Policing Protocol would commit to extra patrols and make clear that protests at the homes of elected representatives should be treated as intimidatory.

It also makes clear that from now on police should take a “consistent and robust approach … to protect our democratic processes from intimidation, disruption, from subversion”, he said.

($1 = 0.7903 pounds)

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Daniel Wallis)