The ‘mob rule’ that Rishi Sunak fears most lies in the ranks of his own party | Andrew Rawnsley

The Tory leader has been flabby about policing extremism on his own side

Conservatives would usually be the first to complain when police officers are diverted from their duties tackling crime and maintaining order to participate in a publicity stunt. Yet it was Rishi Sunak who last week summoned police chiefs to Downing Street for no better reason than to provide him with an audience of blue uniforms to hear his unevidenced claim that there is a “growing consensus that mob rule is replacing democratic rule ” in Britain. A consensus among whom? The hosts of GB News? The most rabidly rightwing tabloid ranters? The leadership of the Reform party?

The police chiefs themselves have been strikingly reluctant to endorse Mr Sunak’s contention that Britain is descending into “mob rule”. This sounds like the kind of thing a rent-a-gob reactionary backbencher might spit out in the hope of being quoted by the Daily Mail. You don’t expect to hear that kind of nonsense coming out of the mouth of the prime minister. Not least because it wouldn’t normally be considered either clever or responsible politics for the leader of the country to suggest that it was plunging into violent anarchy on his watch. Unless, that is, the leader was aiming to do a Donald Trump by seeking to gain advantage through fomenting fear, increasing division and toxifying the atmosphere to justify trampling on democratic norms.

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