Ministers considering new law to protect war memorials

Labour would support a change in the law to make damaging war memorials a specific offence.

On Thursday, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Government will “earnestly consider” a proposed new law to protect war memorials from being desecrated.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds, speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday show, said he would back the Government in creating a specific offence against damaging war memorials and that he would work cross-party to support such efforts in Parliament.

Meanwhile, his shadow cabinet colleague, David Lammy, said he believed the row over statues was being used by the Prime Minister as a “deflection” from taking action to tackle racism in the UK.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the shadow justice secretary said: “Boris Johnson sent out eight tweets, I think it was, on Friday on Winston Churchill and statues.

“He’s never tweeted eight times in a day on coronavirus, he’s never tweeted eight times in a day on the Windrush review or what he’s going to do about it, or on the review that David Cameron asked me to do on disproportionality in the criminal justice system and what he’s going to do about it.

“This feels to me like a bit of a deflection. Let’s get to the action, let’s have some substance, let’s do something about these historic injustices that still exist in our country.”

Mr Lammy also called on the Government to “deal with the substance” around racism and not focus on individual ministers’ experiences of racism.

Last week, in the Commons, Home Secretary Priti Patel clashed with a group of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) Labour MPs who accused her of using her Indian heritage to cast doubt on black communities’ experience of racism.

In response to a letter from the MPs, who accused Ms Patel of “gaslighting” them on racism, the Cabinet minister said she would “not be silenced”.

Responding to questions about whether it was right to send the letter, Mr Lammy – who did not sign the letter – told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “Priti and I are in a similar age group so I can well understand when she says that she was called a Paki – which was a horrible term, which was very commonplace – how that would have felt at the time. But, as I say, let’s deal with the substance.

“We still only have in this country 1% of police officers that are black, 1% of judges that are black, 51% of (those in) our young offender institutions are from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds, languishing in those young offenders’ prisons.

“Those are the serious issues that people want the Government to deal with. Not statues, not Priti Patel – deal with the problems.”

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