Suella Braverman defied Downing Street by refusing to tone down some of their suggested edits to an article she wrote for The Times attacking the Met’s policing of protests, according to reports.

A source close to the home secretary - who is facing calls for her sacking - refused to deny that she had ignored some requested revisions to the article, which accused the police of “playing favourites”.

Downing Street declined to say whether it formally signed off on the article, which suggests it had significant concerns about its contents. It is claimed that No 10 recommended some revisions were made ahead of publication but not all of the changes went ahead.

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A source close to the home secretary told The Times: “We don’t comment on internal processes.”

Ms Braverman’s public criticism of the Met, following Sir Mark Rowley’s decision to give the go-ahead to the pro-Palestine march planned for Armistice Day on Saturday, is the latest row to engulf the home secretary and has led to growing calls for Rishi Sunak to sack her.

Ms Braverman did not turn up to answer an urgent question focused on the operational independence of the Metropolitan Police following her attack.

Chris Philp, the policing minister, said the home secretary had to accompany a close family member to a hospital appointment on Thursday morning.

Labour this afternoon sought to pile pressure on Mr Sunak over Ms Braverman’s remarks, with frontbencher Pat McFadden writing to the Prime Minister to warn him that to “do nothing” would be a “display of weakness”.

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The shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in a letter, said: “The article is an extraordinary attack on the operational independence of the police, accusing them of ‘playing favourites’ in the policing of demonstrations and operating with a ‘double standard’.

“No previous home secretary has ever launched such an attack on the police.”

In the letter, he asks the Prime Minister: “First, was this a breach of the Ministerial Code set out in article 8.2?

“Secondly, what will you do about this?

“To say that the article was not cleared and then do nothing about it would strip you of all authority over the Home Secretary and leave her free to continue to say and do whatever she likes with no fear of sanction from you. This would be a display of weakness and an extraordinary situation in which to leave your Government.”

In the Commons, Mr Philp defended Braverman’s right to criticise the police, insisting it was “reasonable” for politicians to raise concerns and make sure the police were protecting communities.

However, Philp did not repeat the specific criticisms that Braverman had made, such as “play favourites” over its policing of protests or comparing the pro-Palestinian rallies to sectarian marches in Northern Ireland during the troubles.

Sir Tom Winsor, a former government adviser and former chief inspector of constabulary, said on Thursday that Braverman had “crossed the line”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “It’s unusual, it’s unprecedented, it’s contrary to the spirit of the ancient constitutional settlement with the police. I think it’s contrary to the letter of that constitutional settlement. It is highly regrettable ... these political objections can be made by many, many people but the home secretary of all people is not the person to do this.

“The operational independence of the police — and that’s what is in question here — is not a debatable matter any longer. The police and protocol order made by this home secretary in June 2023 stresses the operational independence of the police. Applying pressure to the commissioner of the Met in this way, I think that crosses the line.”

MPs have suggested Suella Braverman should be sacked as home secretary amid warnings she is “encouraging extremists on all sides” over her response to pro-Palestinian protests.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper led the criticism of Ms Braverman during the urgent question in the Commons

The exchanges were prompted by Ms Braverman’s article in The Times in which she said aggressive right-wing protesters were met with a stern response by officers while “pro-Palestinian mobs” were “largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law”.

The SNP and opposition backbenchers questioned if Ms Braverman should be sacked by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, while Labour former minister Sir Chris Bryant accused the Home Secretary of “inciting hatred”.

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Cooper said Ms Braverman was “deliberately seeking to create division around Remembrance” after the minister underlined her characterisation of a protest planned for Armistice Day as a “hate” march.

Ms Cooper said: “She is encouraging extremists on all sides, attacking the police when she should be backing them. It is highly irresponsible and dangerous, and no other Home Secretary would ever have done this.”

Ms Cooper went on: “Does this Government still believe in the operational independence of the police, and how can it do so while this home secretary is in post and did the Prime Minister and Number 10 agree to the content of this article?

“Because either the Prime Minister has endorsed this or he’s too weak to sack her.”

Mr Philp said there had been a “spike” in Islamophobic offences and a “surge” in antisemitic offences, adding: “I’ve been contacted this morning by members of the Jewish community who are deeply uneasy about what this weekend will bring.”

Mr Philp went on: “And it is reasonable for politicians, the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and others, I’m sure some on the other side of the House as well, to raise those concerns and make sure that the police are protecting those communities.”

He insisted that “the Government resolutely backs the question of operational independence” and in relation to the approval process of the Home Secretary’s article with Number 10, Mr Philp said: “I’m afraid I don’t have any visibility on that at all.”

For the SNP, Chris Stephens said: “A lot of discussion has focused on the Palestinian ceasefire march when the police are more concerned with counter-protests by the far right … and football hooligans. Will the Government also be looking to cancel the 10 Premier League games scheduled this weekend?

“Will it look to cancel the City of London’s Lord Mayor’s Parade which overlaps the two-minute silence?

“The ex-Met assistant commissioner said this morning that this is the end of operational independence in policing … saying it’s on the verge of behaving unconstitutionally.

“Does this not mean and represent that the Home Secretary is unfit for office and should be sacked today?”
Mr Philp said he did not agree with the suggestion that operational independence was in “any way compromised”.

Labour’s Jon Trickett (Hemsworth) said: “The truth is the Government is attempting to draw the police into taking political sides in a very contentious matter in the country.

“There are millions of people who want a ceasefire. Now that is a dangerous slippery slope which we’re on. Operational independence of the police to protect the right of assembly, the basic English right of liberty is being challenged by the Home Secretary.

“She is not fit to hold that post, is she?”

Conservative former Cabinet minister Theresa Villiers said she was “deeply troubled” by the march planned for Saturday.

She acknowledged the police were in a “really difficult position” and that their powers were “constrained by law”, but speaking about the Jewish community, she said: “I have never known fear and anxiety as I have seen over the last few weeks.”