London's mayor was accused of giving in to mob rule last night by covering up Winston Churchill's statue.
Sadiq Khan protects major public monuments – including the cenotaph – from protests against racism on Saturday. But Priti Patel asked the mayor to immediately expose the bronze sculpture.
"We should free Churchill, a hero of our nation who has fought fascism and racism in this country and in Europe," said the Home Secretary.
"He gave us the freedom to live our life the way we do today." Churchill's grandson Nicholas Soames said covering up his statue in Parliament Square was a national humiliation. And Boris Johnson said it was "absurd and shameful" that the monument had to be protected.
Mr. Khan defended his decision and insisted that "prevention is better than cure". His allies said Mr. Johnson had overseen three times as mayor the entry of statues into Parliament Square.
The Churchill Memorial, built in 1973, was a target for demonstrators and was sprayed with the word "racist" last weekend.
Police said they could face a "perfect storm" today after a network of football hooligans and extremists announced they would gather to "defend" national monuments.
To alleviate tensions, the campaign group Black Lives Matter urged supporters not to travel to the capital if they were attacked.
More than a dozen anti-racist marches are slated to take place across the country today. The Bolton Council chairman has ordered a two-meter steel fence to be built around the city's cenotaph because it is feared that it could be targeted.
Dozens of city halls check the status of monuments after a 17th-century statue of slave trader Edward Colston was toppled and thrown into port last weekend in Bristol.
Mr. Khan has also ordered monument protection for Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square, and for George Washington and King James II in Trafalgar Square.
Despite the support of the Black Lives Matter movement, he warned of protests this weekend over the risk of spreading the corona virus and the possibility of clashes with the far right.
The Prime Minister, who wrote a Churchill biography, said that the Prime Minister of World War II "deserved his memorial," even if some of his views were unacceptable today.
He added: "The statue of Winston Churchill on Parliament Square is a permanent reminder of his achievement to save this country – and the whole of Europe – from fascist and racist tyranny."
When asked about historical figures, Mr. Johnson said: “They had different perspectives, different views of right and wrong. But these statues teach us about our past with all its faults. Tearing them down would lie about our history and impoverish the education of future generations. "
Mr. Johnson acknowledged the "legitimate feeling of indignation" at the death of African American George Floyd when he was arrested by police in Minneapolis last month.
He also accepted that Britain had "much more work" to do to combat racial inequality, but added, "We cannot pretend to have a different history. The statues in our cities were erected by previous generations."
Miss Patel said the decision to hide the Churchill memorial was a "sad reflection" of Mr. Khan's mayor.
She added: "If he had especially called the minority that was subversive in a peaceful protest and if he had carried out the fight in the right way, we would not have seen our national hero boarding."
A spokesman for the mayor said, "The Home Secretary should speak to her boss, the prime minister, who did exactly the same thing when he was mayor of London – including boarding all of Parliament Square to protect the statues from protesters. However, we all know that it will not do so, as this is just a political scoring.
"Sadiq has urged anyone who is thinking of protesting to stay home this weekend instead and has protected these monuments from damage or vandalism – which is the only responsible thing." Sir Nicholas described the Black Lives Matter movement as a "noble thing". said, however, that the protests had been kidnapped by the "terribly hard left and hard right".
The former Tory MP added: “It is completely unthinkable that this should happen and that it should be necessary to climb a statue of Churchill to guide this country through its darkest hour.
"Without him, I don't know where we would be today. I just think it is deeply disrespectful and humiliating for our country and it shows a complete lack of realistic understanding of history."
The 12-foot sculpture was unveiled by Churchill's widow Clementine and shows him with his hand on his walking stick and in a military coat. It is based on a photo of Churchill inspecting the House of Commons after it was destroyed by a German bombing raid in May 1941.
Hundreds of protesters opposed requests to stay away from central London by participating in an anti-racism march in the capital yesterday. The protest was largely peaceful and the masses respected socially distancing measures.
The fear of clashes with right-wing extremist mobs proved to be unfounded.
From Hyde Park, demonstrators made their way to Trafalgar Square, which was watched by a significant police presence.
During the speeches in Hyde Park, several people were arrested, who the organizers said may have been linked to previous demonstrations.
I was molested for my race at school, but now Labor MPs who want to silence me are the racists: PRITI PATEL shows their outrage at getting into Churchill, the contempt for the rioters' fight and how the REAL Bigots are in politics are on the left
ByRebecca Hardy and Andrew Pierce for the Daily Mail
Interior Minister Priti Patel is incandescent. "They are trying to silence me because I am not adapting to their version of an ethnic minority," she says. "They think they have a license to speak for everyone from an ethnic minority.
& # 39; That is not the case. This is simply not the case. We are all different. We are all individuals. What they're saying is racist in itself, and I don't think we should lose sight of that. "
"They" are the 31 MPs – "Leftists from the Labor Party who are more closely related to Jeremy Corbyn," says Priti – who sent a hideous letter accusing her of "lighting" others from minority communities after having their own experiences with racism earlier this week.
Priti, the daughter of Ugandan Asian immigrants, defended Monday in the House of Commons against proposals from Labor MPs that she would not "understand" racial equality given the protests against Black Lives Matter.
Interior Minister Priti Patel, pictured on Monday, suggested the Labor MPs in the House of Commons: "They are trying to silence me for not adhering to their version of an ethnic minority."
For this vocal supporter of the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, it was her moment when the lady was not there to turn. Priti's words, spoken clearly and calmly in the mailing box, were devastating in their emotional impact.
"It must have been a very different interior minister, often referred to as Paki as a child in the playground," she said. "A very different minister of the interior who has been racially abused or even advised to drop her last name and use her husband's to promote her career."
"Another Home Secretary has characterized recently. . . in The Guardian newspaper as a fat cow with a ring through his nose – something that was not only racist, but also culturally and religiously insulting. "
The 48-year-old Priti wears her Asian ethnicity with pride and not as a weapon. "People who know me know that I'm a freedom fighter," she says. "My father always said to me:" Hold your head up and go forward. We live in a great country where we have the freedom to be successful. "
"Here I am, the oldest woman in the UK government – as Home Secretary not because of privileges but because of the hard work my parents taught me and because I was free to succeed."
That is why Priti has agreed to this exclusive interview. We meet at the Home Office where there is a poster in the elevator of Sir Robert Peel, who twice served as Prime Minister and is considered the father of modern British police.
His is one of the statues that some Black Lives Matter activists want to "overthrow".
On top of that, to protect her, London Mayor Sadiq Khan ordered the entry into the statue of Sir Winston Churchill and the cenotaph, a memorial to those who gave their lives for this country, and let's just say during the A lot of the time we spend together is put on the desk.
Patel as a child, pictured with her father. She said, "I didn't speak to my father this week because it was pretty busy, but I know he would think Churchill is a hero of our country."
"We should" free "Churchill," she says. “He is the defender of our democracy and freedom.
"We have seen the desecration of war memorials [on some violent outbreaks involving a minority of demonstrators during the Black Lives Matter marches last weekend], which is completely unacceptable." Now we see a national hero on board. I think this is a sad reflection on the Mayor of London, because if he had stood up for the right thing, he would have called the minority that was subversive in a peaceful protest, if he had done the fight the right way, we would don't do I see our national hero boarding. & # 39;
She slaps her hand on the desk.
"When I was growing up, Papa said:" We have freedom because we live in an open, democratic society. "When we hear the Labor Party split, hateful and trying to erase the past, which I think they are trying to do, it makes me angry.
"I didn't speak to my father this week because he was pretty busy, but I know he would think Churchill is a hero of our country." He fought against fascism and racism in Great Britain and Europe and gave us the freedom to live our life as we do today. "
What about the other statues that some Black Lives Matter activists are threatening to overthrow, for example the men who made their fortune with the slave trade?
"We cannot pretend that everything that has happened in the past is correct, but that does not mean that we can delete it." We have to learn from our past and at the same time look ahead.
“We need our children to understand our past so that they are prepared for the future. I can see that some [of the Labor MPs] who signed this letter to me didn't understand. They seem to think that everyone should be caught up in their version of the story or that they should express their views. It is not acceptable. "
In this most troubling week, according to many political experts, Priti Patel is one of the few cabinet members who stepped on the plate and showed balls while the history of the nation was literally destroyed before our eyes.
The now Home Secretary with her husband Alex Sawyer at the Investec Derby Day 2014 in Epsom, Surrey
She is charming – but steely – just like her political heroine Lady Thatcher, and she firmly believes that those who have committed these acts of vandalism and violence will be held accountable.
Before our interview, she had been with police officers from across the country for more than an hour.
"Your readers saw the horrific and nasty scenes where police officers were attacked and mistreated day after day when we saw peaceful protests undermined by thugs with alternative motivations."
"There is a lot of work going on – collecting evidence – before we blame people," she says.
"We are still living with a Covid-19 pandemic, so it is absolutely right to urge people not to go out and protest."
"Here we sit socially distant," she says, pointing to the three of us who are two meters apart. "There is a serious public health crisis in this country, so I urge people not to take part in the protests [this weekend] and to stay at home, especially for the community most affected by coronaviruses."
The black community? She nods. "We are not like America – absolutely not. Our policing is not like in America. We are monitoring with approval in this country. The police have operational independence. We are nothing like America.
“The fact that you are sitting here and talking to me, a woman with an Asian minority, shows that we have such great opportunities in this country. We really do that.
"It hurts to hear people talking down our country. If this were a racist country, I wouldn't be sitting where I am. We are a great country and a world far from our time 20, 30 or 40 years ago. "
About forty years ago, Priti was the six-year-old child who endured the terrible mockery of "Paki" in the school playground.
"Of course we talked a long time ago, but I can still remember the extent of injuries and fear."
Were there tears? She nods.
"Yes, I hated it," she says. "I remember being six or seven years old and wanting to go home for lunch to get away from it. It was just terrible. Real abuse. "
As she speaks, Priti has a sadness written on her face. “My father decided that he wanted to change my school. I never forget my mother saying, "We can change school, but that doesn't mean things will change dramatically."
“My mother and father were shopkeepers, so we heard all sorts of bad words and languages. The times were very different. "
Priti's parents, Sushil and Anjana, emigrated to the UK in the late 1960s so that their father could graduate in mechanical engineering. However, their plans were turned upside down when Despot President Idi Amin drove Uganda's Asian minority in the early 1970s.
Suddenly Priti's father had to give up his education to make a living and to support his parents, brother and sister, who had fled to England.
"If you think what the British government has done for Ugandan Asians, it is phenomenal. That is why I feel particularly strongly here about our moral commitment and our responsibility towards the people of Hong Kong," she says. "The Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and I are determined to create a bespoke way for them to get here."
More than two million of them? She nods.
"It speaks again for the values of our country and the open, tolerant country that we are. Appearance . . . “She nods to two maps of the British Isles on the wall of her office. One is from 2017 and one from 2019.
“We won a general election because we focused on advancing across the country. We want to deliver that and give everyone an opportunity. "
She speaks with a passion that comes from her own life experience.
"Life was hard for my parents – but you just keep going," she says. When my father gave up his studies, they rented a room in Finsbury Park, north London, from an older man known to me as Uncle Fred.
Patel pictured as a baby with her mother who came to the UK from Gujarat via Uganda. About forty years ago, Priti was the six-year-old child who endured the terrible mockery of "Paki" in the school playground
"My father bought a business for his own parents and then he bought his own business – that of a newspaper dealer."
From there we went to Norfolk, where he bought a post office and grocery. I saw my mother and father work so hard around the clock, seven days a week – early morning, late nights – and endured that people were insensitive. I remember it completely. "
There is sadness on her face again.
“We lived above the store and I saw them sweat it out. They made sacrifices and only worked hard – huge, long hours, ”she says.
Priti also worked hard. She attended an ethnically mixed high school for girls, where she became head girl before she was the first in her family to graduate from university.
"I don't think I had ambition as an adult," she says.
"I am very close to my family. My father taught me how to do accounting. He always showed me the VAT return. After his father died, I remember that he told me that it was my responsibility to put a roof over it To keep my mother's head and take care of my brothers and sisters when something has happened to him. "
She tells me that when she talks about her family, which includes her husband Alex Sawyer and her son, she has a softer face.
She and Alex got to know each other through politics and worked together on a post-election campaign. They married in 2004 at a registry office, followed by a Hindu ceremony.
"My husband is a Christian, but he's not overtly religious," she says. "He sees no color and never has."
“My parents taught me how to deal with everyone. My father – love him down to the smallest detail – has always been one of those who wanted to integrate into society and want to become part of the community.
“Before I worked as a Member of the Parliament, I worked for large multinational companies. I don't see any barriers in people. That's how we live our life, that's how we raise our son.
“My family is international. We see no color, no gender, no race or no stereotype. It is part of my motivation to become a member of Parliament: I am not a stereotype. The Labor Party doesn't speak for me. I am not defined by the left because I come from an ethnic community.
"I was born in this country. I grew up in this country. I had equal opportunities. I didn't go to the most glamorous school, but I worked hard and went to university. That is part of who I am. "
She pauses for a moment and then shakes her head. "Do you know that my first experiences with sexism and racism [since I became a Member] have now been made?" She says.
“This cartoon in The Guardian [depicting Priti as a cow and Boris Johnson as a bull when he defended them in the House of Commons] was more than offensive from a cultural point of view. It's no secret that I'm Hindu. So from a religious point of view, it's just insulting. It was terrible – very, very annoying. "
Your jaw contracts.
“When I hear what I did in the House of Commons this week or what I read in this letter, I'm afraid that we will return to some of the ugliest and most controversial aspects of hateful politics.
"But I'm not going to be silenced."