Leaked WhatsApp’s reveal Tory clashes over Braverman’s pro-Palestine march row stance

A cache of leaked WhatsApp messages lay bare the scale of Tory in-fighting over Suella Braverman’s stance on pro-Palestine protests in London on Saturday and her attacks on police.

A group of backbench Conservative MPs have rounded on the home secretary, accusing her of “undermining public confidence in policing”.

But backers of Ms Braverman have hit back, accusing critics of “public carping”.

Ms Braverman is under fire for an incendiary article in The Times on Wednesday in which she accused the police of bias over the pro-Palestine protest, prompting calls from senior Tories for her to be sacked.

Downing Street has made clear that it had not approved the extraordinary article and senior Tories have criticised it, including Jeremy Hunt, saying “I would not have used those words”.

With tensions in the Conservative Party reaching breaking point, leaked WhatsApp messages seen by Sky News showed divisions playing out in private.

Ms Braverman ally Sir John Hayes told a group of MPs in a private messenger group that it was “so sad to see protests being allowed on the Remembrance weekend”.

But Jackie Doyle-Price, a minister in Theresa May’s government, said protesters have a right to demonstrate, claiming “colleagues making noise about them are simply advertising them and make them bigger as a consequence”.

The party’s former deputy chairman Sir Bernard Jenkin asked if he was the only one “who thinks it is it most unfortunate that the chief of Met Police is being placed under pressure from the government, which threatens to compromise public confidence in his operational independence?".

Four Tory MPs weighed in to assure him he was not.

And, in an extraordinary blue-on-blue attack, Lincoln MP Karl McCartney said he was “really pleased” with “helpful public carping” from Sir Bob Neill and Richard Graham, who have both condemned the home secretary’s op-ed.

“I’m sure Christmas cards from [Labour’s shadow home secretary] Yvette Cooper will take pride of place amongst all their others,” Mr McCartney said.

He said he was “not as half-pleased as they obviously both are with themselves”. “You stretch our patience. Just like the ‘ever popular’ [Anna] Soubry did,” Mr McCartney said.

Later on in the conversation Ms Doyle-Price urged colleagues to “express their views to whips and to the home secretary directly”.

Jill Mortimer then said “and on WhatsApp because some colleagues are untrustworthy disgraceful leakers”.

The vice chairman of the powerful 1922 committee of backbench Tory MPs said: “I’ve had enough of this rubbish.”

In her article, Ms Braverman compared “pro-Palestinian mobs” to marches in Northern Ireland and claimed the protesters are “largely ignored” by officers “even when clearly breaking the law”.

She has already called the weekly demonstrations, attended by thousands, “hate marches”.

Mr Sunak is under pressure to sack Ms Braverman as home secretary, while MPs on the right of the party are threatening to revolt if action is taken against her.

The row came as hundreds of thousands prepared to descend on London to call for a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Organisers of the pro-Palestine march said they expected 500,000 to take part.

It is planned to leave from Hyde Park at noon, about a mile from the Cenotaph in Whitehall, and head south of the river to the US embassy in Vauxhall. The rally begins an hour after two minutes of silence is observed at 11am. Police have said that the march and any speeches must end by 5pm.

Meanwhile, far-right groups have vowed to “defend” the war memorial in reaction to the row over whether the pro-Palestine march should be banned. Police will put an exclusion zone in place covering Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade, the Westminister Abbey Field of Remembrance and other areas to prevent protesters from getting close to memorials.

There are no demonstrations planned for Sunday, when hundreds of service men and women, members of the royal family and politicians will gather together at the Cenotaph for the National Service of Remembrance.