Michael Gove was last night mobbed by pro-Palestinian supporters chanting ‘shame on you’ as he walked through Victoria station, sparking fears over the safety of ministers.
The Levelling Up Secretary, wearing a black suit, had to be escorted from the London railway station by a large police contingent as demonstrators swarmed around him during a tense Armistice Day in London.
The flag-waving activists, who were holding a sit-in protest at Victoria station, were heard chanting ‘shame on you’ as officers shouted at them to ‘get back’.
In another clip, the senior Cabinet minister was seen walking down a London street as protesters followed him chanting the same slogan.
One MP said the attack – condemned by politicians from all sides – had a ‘chilling effect on democracy’. Others called it ‘vile’.
Mr Gove’s former wife, Mail columnist Sarah Vine, said the incident could have easily been worse had police not acted so quickly. She said: ‘Michael is fine, he remained very calm, which is typical of him. Most people would have been terrified. He said the police were amazing – they really saved his bacon.’
Michael Gove was last night mobbed by pro-Palestinian supporters chanting ‘shame on you’ as he walked through Victoria station amid a tense Armistice Day in London
Protesters take part in a sit-in at Victoria station in Central London on Saturday afternoon
Gove is escorted through Victoria Station as police deal with a sit-in in Victoria Station, London
Officers were forced to intervene as protesters swarmed the Levelling Up Secretary while he walked through
The scenes at Victoria prompted other politicians to express solidarity with Mr Gove (pictured leaving the station)
One senior Tory argued that ‘while people have freedom to protest they don’t have the freedom to threaten other members of society’.
Towards the end of the march, pro-Palestinian protesters also staged a sit-in at Waterloo Station – where police said they refused to leave until they were threatened with arrests.
It comes as Rishi Sunak blasted ‘EDL thugs’ and ‘Hamas sympathisers’ over a day of chaos in the capital – with far-Right groups seen violently clashing with police while there were incidents of antisemitism at the pro-Palestine march.
Mr Gove was travelling home from his Surrey constituency by car but was dropped off in Victoria because of road closures. He had been pictured at an event to unveil a blue plaque commemorating the Free French military camp at Old Dean in Camberley, Surrey.
He started walking through the streets but was followed by the angry mob. Mr Gove then walked to the station where he thought he would be safer, according to sources close to him. It was then that police intervened.
The ugly scenes at Victoria prompted other politicians to express solidarity with Mr Gove.
Former Security Minister Sir John Hayes said: ‘What have we come to when a senior Cabinet Minister cannot walk safely through the streets of London to their own home?’
‘It really illustrates why these protests should not have taken place at all this weekend. The Home Secretary has proved to be absolutely right.’
In another clip, Mr Gove was seen walking down a London street as protesters followed him chanting the same slogan
Protesters take part in a sit in at Victoria station. One holds a sign with the controversial slogan: ‘From the river to the sea’
A police officer faces off against a group of counter-protesters near the ‘National March For Palestine’
A counter-protester wearing a balaclava throws a can of beer at a police officer
Police officers detain a man in the street close to the ‘National March For Palestine’ in central London
A police officer in riot gear pushes back a man who snatched a pro-Palestinian placard from a woman
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: ‘Attempts to harass or intimidate Michael Gove or any other politician going about their business are completely unacceptable.’ She also condemned ‘disgraceful scenes of far-Right violence’ as well as ‘appalling anti-Semitic hate and support for terrorist groups like Hamas’.
Some MPs warned last night that high-profile politicians might need police protection if the weekly marches continue.
Tory MP Bob Blackman blamed the ‘basically fascist ultra-Left’, saying: ‘They will use any means possible to intimidate and threaten the democratic order of society.’
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘Having seen the vile attacks on Michael Gove by the pro-Palestinians and the appalling attacks by the ultra Right-wingers, this day can hardly be said to have passed peacefully. This is what the Prime Minister and Home Secretary were worried about.’
Dame Arlene Foster, former first minister of Northern Ireland, tweeted: ‘This is so disgraceful.
‘Sending solidarity to @michaelgove and all those who seek to go about their private business on a Saturday afternoon but who are intimidated by thugs.’
Tory MP Sir Michael Fabricant condemned what he described as a ‘hateful mob’.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan described attempts to intimidate politicians as ‘unacceptable’.
And SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said: ‘It’s not ‘bizarre’ for Michael Gove to use a major tube/train station. He should be able to travel in peace like everyone else.
‘Those acting in this fashion damage their cause and, along with those displaying abhorrent antisemitism amongst the rally today, must be condemned.’
The incident raised concerns about Ministers’ security, with some citing the murder of Sir David Amess MP in his constituency office in 2021. Sir David’s killer, Ali Harbi Ali, had initially planned to target Mr Gove.
Mr Gove’s office has been contacted for comment.
A counter-protester is detained by police in Parliament Square in central London
Police clash with far-right counter-protesters in Parliament Square on Saturday
Far-right figure Tommy Robinson arrived in Whitehall early on Saturday morning along with hundreds of right-wing protesters
More than 100 counter-protesters have been arrested and nine officers injured as hundreds of thousands of people took part in a pro-Palestinian demonstration in central London.
A total of 82 people were arrested in Tachbrook Street, Pimlico, to ‘prevent a breach of the peace’ as the march passed through the capital.
Police said those arrested were part of a ‘large group’ of counter-protesters who had ‘tried to reach the main protest march’.
Reports suggested that some people were detained and prevented from leaving the nearby White Swan pub with a heavy police presence outside, including officers on horseback.
A further 10 arrests were made throughout the day for offences including possession of offensive weapons, affray and possession of drugs, police said. The Met said on Saturday night that a total of 126 arrests were made, while a breakaway group of 150 Palestine protesters were detained.
Counter-protesters had earlier clashed with police near the Cenotaph, ahead of a service to mark Armistice Day.
Scuffles broke out as police attempted to stop a crowd of people carrying St George’s flags marching along Embankment towards Whitehall, where the Cenotaph is located, shortly after 10am.
The group, which had been chanting ‘England ’til I die’ pushed through the police barrier, with some shouting ‘let’s have them’ as officers hit out with batons.
Further clashes with police took place in Chinatown with counter-protesters chanting: ‘You’re not English any more’ towards officers.
Police managed to disperse the crowd, splitting them into two smaller groups which were seen running in the direction of Piccadilly Circus.
People set off fireworks during the main pro-Palestinian march in London this evening
The march, which coincides with Armistice Day, went towards the US embassy in Vauxhall, south of the Thames
Tens of thousands of people have turned up on the streets of London on Saturday
Protesters hold flares during a pro-Palestinian protest in London on Saturday
The coalition of groups behind the march include the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain, Palestinian Forum in Britain and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Protesters wave flags and hold flares during a pro-Palestinian protest in London, Saturday, November 11, 2023.
A group of about 100 people were later held near Westminster Bridge under police powers to prevent a disturbance.
As the pro-Palestinian march came to an end, the Met Police are still bracing for further clashes as ‘drunken’ far-right thugs remain holed up in pubs.
Officers have surrounded the White Swan pub on Vauxhall Bridge Road and prevented some people from leaving to stop them clashing with demonstrators leaving the main march in Nine Elms.
Tense scenes erupted outside a second pub, The Duke of York in Victoria Street, as swarms of officers were filmed closing in on a large group of counter-protesters gathered outside.
An Armistice Day service took place at the Cenotaph on Whitehall at 11am, which passed off peacefully with a two-minute silence being observed.
Some politicians – most notably Mr Gove’s Cabinet colleague Suella Braverman – had put pressure on police not to let the pro-Palestinian march go ahead on the day of remembrance.
Rishi Sunak condemned the ‘despicable’ violence of ‘EDL thugs’ who attacked police officers and pro-Palestinian protesters pictured openly supporting Hamas after a day of chaos in central London.
The Prime Minister said the ugly scenes on Armistice Day ‘utterly disrespects’ the spirit of remembrance. He said he would meet Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley in the coming days to hold him ‘accountable’ for dealing with the disturbances.
Mr Sunak said in a statement: ‘I condemn the violent, wholly unacceptable scenes we have seen today from the EDL (English Defence League) and associated groups and Hamas sympathisers attending the National March for Palestine.
‘The despicable actions of a minority of people undermine those who have chosen to express their views peacefully.’
He said their actions do ‘not defend the honour of our Armed Forces, but utterly disrespects them’.
‘That is true for EDL thugs attacking police officers and trespassing on the Cenotaph, and it is true for those singing antisemitic chants and brandishing pro-Hamas signs and clothing on today’s protest.’
He said he would be meeting the Met chief, adding: ‘All criminality must be met with the full and swift force of the law. That is what I told the Met Police Commissioner on Wednesday, that is what they are accountable for and that is what I expect.’
Last night, House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he was ‘very concerned’ at what happened to Mr Gove.
A spokesperson for Sir Lindsay said: ‘The Speaker was very concerned to hear about the incident at Victoria Station where Michael Gove was jostled.
‘He takes the safety of all MPs seriously and is in regular contact with the police and the parliamentary security department to ensure support is available to allow them to carry out their duties.
‘The Speaker is keen to speak to Michael at the earliest opportunity.’