Boris Johnson confirms government considering new law to protect war memorials after wave of protests
Boris Johnson laying a wreath at the cenotaph in 2019, which was among memorials vandalised in recent weeks (PA)
Ministers are considering plans to impose tougher sentences on war memorial vandals, Boris Johnson has confirmed.
The Prime Minister told MPs that the Government was “looking at new ways” to protect such monuments — and vowed that perpetrators will face “the full force of the law”.
The move comes after numerous statues and memorials across the UK were damaged amid widespread protests as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
And Mr Johnson also defended his decision to appoint Number 10 adviser Munira Mirza as leader of the Government new racial equality commission, despite concerns about her personal views on racism.
Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, the Conservative leader was asked by fellow Tory Andrea Jenkyns what he was doing to “to uphold British values and carry out the rule of law” following the vandalism row.
And he responded: "As I can tell her, I can tell the House, any incident of vandalism or attack on public property will be met with the full force of the law and perpetrators will be prosecuted.
“And I can confirm that we are looking at new ways in which we may legislate against vandalism of war memorial."
It was reported this weekend that Home Secretary Priti Patel and Cabinet colleagues were considering a Desecration of War Memorials Bill, which has the backing of 125 Conservative MPs.
Jonathan Gullis, one of the backbench MPs pushing the legislation, wrote for The House Live: “It is not right that these monuments are drawn on, spat on, urinated on or subject to profane graffiti as they have been on numerous occasions across the country.”
He added: “This Bill will create a specific offence, distinguishable from damage to public property, and is the respectable thing to do.”
Elswere at PMQs, Mr Johnson came to the defence of Number 10 policy chief Munira Murza, whose appointment to the Government's new racial equality commission attracted controversy following her criticism of previous probes into the matter.
Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy accused the government “trying to wage a culture war” with the appointment.
The long-time adviser of Mr Johnson has been sharply critical of previous probes into racial equality, describing Theresa May’s race disparity audit as an example of how “anti-racism is becoming weaponised across the political spectrum” in a 2007 Spectator column.
But Mr Johnson said: “I am a huge admirer of Dr Munira Murza who is a brilliant thinker about these issues, and we are certainly going to proceed with a new inter-governmental, a cross-governmental commission to look at racism and discrimination.
“And it will be a very thorough piece of work looking at discrimination in health, in education, in the criminal justice system.
“I know the House will say we’ve already had plenty of commissions and plenty of work.
"But it is clear from the Black Lives Matter march and all the representations that we have had that more work needs to be done, and this government is going to do it.”