Sunak summons university leaders amid concerns of UK’s slide into ‘mob rule’

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak convenes university leaders to address anti-Semitic incidents and has pledged funding for security measures.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak plans to convene university leaders at Downing Street to address the protection of Jewish students on campus amid concerning incidents. Sunak has expressed concerns over the erosion of democratic values in the UK, particularly highlighting the need for stronger measures against intimidation stemming from protests related to the Gaza conflict. Recent protests have raised alarm with their use of anti-Semitic slogans and the targeting of politicians. Sunak, speaking at the Community Security Trust’s annual dinner, emphasized the increasing threat to the nation’s social fabric due to rising racist attacks. He also pledged to combat both anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hatred.

Sunak emphasized the unacceptable nature of the situation at UK universities, highlighting instances such as Iranian generals delivering anti-Semitic speeches. He cautioned against the abuse of freedom of speech as a guise for hate speech, noting that such behaviour undermines the fundamental principles of free expression.
Sunak stated that Jewish students were facing targeted threats and assaults solely because of their Jewish identity. A  distressing incident involving a chaplain at the University of Leeds who had to take his family into hiding due to death threats, stemming from his status as an IDF reservist was highlighted.


“Where people break the law on our campuses they will be met with the full consequences.” Mr Sunak said.

To address the concerning rise in anti-Semitism, the Prime Minister announced plans to convene Vice Chancellors from leading universities at Downing Street. This meeting aims to discuss effective strategies to combat anti-Semitic incidents on campuses. Additionally, in response to the surge in anti-Semitic activities, funding will be provided for security measures such as security guards, CCTV, and alarm systems at Jewish community sites. The Home Office has allocated £54 million in total, with a portion dedicated to the Community Security Trust (CST) until 2028, along with extra funding to enhance protection for MPs.

Sunak emphasized the importance of condemning “hateful narratives” and investing in interfaith initiatives to foster greater community cohesion and understanding. He criticized recent protest marches in UK cities, which have left Jewish families feeling unsafe in the capital, and affirmed his commitment to not allowing violent or intimidating behaviour to silence elected representatives.

He noted the importance of peaceful protests advocating for the protection of civilian lives but condemned any calls for violence or the projection of anti-Semitic imagery onto landmarks like Big Ben, referring to a recent incident during a parliamentary debate on Gaza.

Tensions in the UK rose following Hamas’s attack on Israel in October, leading to frequent pro-Palestinian protests and counter-rallies across cities, as well as demonstrations outside MPs’ residences. Speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle, modified parliamentary rules to address concerns over MPs’ safety during debates, prompting Sunak to warn against intimidation of Parliament by extremists.

Sunak discussed a proposed “democratic policing protocol” with police chiefs during a meeting at Downing Street, aiming to enhance patrols and clarify that protests at elected representatives’ homes should be considered intimidatory. He was accompanied by Home Secretary James Cleverly during this meeting.