The Daily Telegraph

Respect mourners and allow them to pay tribute in peace, Starmer tells protesters

- By Jack Maidment

‘Respect the fact that hundreds of thousands want to come forward and have that moment’

SIR KEIR STARMER has told protesters not to “ruin” the national mourning period, and urged them to “respect” people who want to show their appreciati­on for Queen Elizabeth II.

The leader of the Labour Party said thousands of people would be making a “huge effort to come and have that private moment to say thank you” and that protesters should remember that.

His comments came after a string of interventi­ons from police to stop demonstrat­ors expressing anti-monarchist views in recent days.

Sir Keir was asked during an interview on the BBC Breakfast programme if he had any concerns about the way in which the police have dealt with the protesters. He said: “The word I would use around that issue is respect. I think if people have spent a long time waiting to come forward to have that moment as the coffin goes past or whatever it may be, I think respect that, because people have made a huge effort to come and have that private moment to say thank you to Queen Elizabeth II.

“Respect that. Obviously we have to respect the fact that some people disagree. One of the great British traditions is the ability to protest and to disagree.

“But I think if it can be done in the spirit of respect. Respect the fact that hundreds of thousands of people do want to come forward and have that moment. Don’t ruin it for them.

“But also we do need to respect the fact that other people must be entitled to express their different views.”

During a press briefing earlier this week, Downing Street was quizzed on whether it was appropriat­e that demonstrat­ors expressing republican views faced arrest.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I won’t be drawn into commenting on individual cases, those are operationa­l matters for the police.

“More broadly obviously this is a period of national mourning for the vast, vast majority of the country but the fundamenta­l right to protest remains.

“It is a keystone of our democracy.” Sir Keir was part of the formal reception committee that was present in Westminste­r Hall when the late Queen’s coffin arrived yesterday afternoon and her lying in state began.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to queue in the coming days so that they can enter Westminste­r Hall to view Queen Elizabeth’s coffin and to pay their respects.

Sir Keir said during his television interview that he also intends to pay his respects in a “private capacity” along with his wife and two children.

He said: “Today I will be there as part of the reception committee to receive the coffin. We have got members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, so I will be there as leader of His Majesty’s Opposition – we need to get used to these new titles.

“And then later on this evening in a private capacity because my wife and our children, I have got a boy who is 14, a little girl who is 11, they want to come in and as a family we will then pay our own personal respects to a remarkable sovereign.”

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