DEFENCE Secretary Grant Shapps tonight condemned the “shameful behaviour” of thugs who brought chaos and violence to Armistice Day.
Yobs behind the trouble must face “swift prosecution” and be thrown into a prison cell to stop a repeat of the disorder, he said.
He hit out at far-right hooligans who tarnished the build-up to the two minute’s silence at 11am at the Cenotaph with rioting and shouts nearby.
And he railed against protesters on the pro-Palestine march who carried effigies of dead babies and pro-Hamas placards as well as chanting anti-Semitic slogans.
Speaking to The Sun on Sunday, Mr Shapps said: “This is a day where we are remembering those who have died and fought to give us our freedom.
“To come out on a day like this is entirely inappropriate.
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“People need to look deep into their souls and think about their behaviour. It is shameful.”
Mr Shapps, who joined our brave veterans and military Top Brass at the Cenotaph today, told of his horror at the far-right thugs who tried to besmirch the solemn day with their violence.
But he also attacked the pro-Palestine protesters for “stirring up racial hatred on the day we are commemorating the war dead”.
After weeks of protesters preaching division, hate and extremism on the streets of London, he said police must finally “draw a line in the sand” and lock up the culprits.
He said: “You have got to lock people up — because that’s the thing that in the end stops behaviour which is repulsive and illegal.
“In a completely unrelated way, I had to battle the Insulate Britain folk who kept causing mass disruption to our transport system.
“And in the end, we got injunctions. People went to jail when they broke the injunctions. That’s what stopped it from happening again.
“All the fine words won’t stop people who think they can keep pushing the boundaries.
“Carrying around images of burnt babies — what kind of disgusting minds do these people have to think that is acceptable behaviour in a civilised society?
“And there needs to be punishments which ensure that people don’t feel that they can continue to do that week after week without fear of being prosecuted.”
Mr Shapps is Jewish. His family fled the violent pogroms of Eastern Europe in the late 19th century and found refuge here in Britain.
He said he has been appalled at the anti-Jewish hate he has witnessed in recent weeks and understands why some British Jews fear for their safety.
Britain is the most tolerant country in the world, the minister insisted, but added that this hard-won tolerance and freedom must be protected.
Police must dole out swift justice to those behind anti-Semitism on the marches, he insisted.
And if they needed more powers to arrest and prosecute those guilty of intimidation on Britain’s streets, they must be given them, he said.
Mr Shapps added: “If the police don’t have the powers that they need to arrest and charge people, and to do it quickly, then we need to make sure we give them those powers. Speed is of the essence.
“If you end up with a big gap between an injustice and justice being done, then it opens the way for more people to behave in a similar way.
“Whereas if you can deal with it promptly, people very quickly get the idea they can’t behave like that and get away with it. It discourages others from doing so.
“If there are grey areas — including being able to go out on the street and chant intimidatory chants about ‘jihad’, about ‘from the river to the sea’ — if there are areas that require greater powers in place, I think Parliament should consider giving them those powers.”
In Parliament, tensions have erupted over calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.
A growing army of Labour MPs have defied their leader Sir Keir Starmer to demand one.
But Mr Shapps branded demands for a ceasefire “naive” and said Israel had no choice but to try to destroy Hamas — or the terrorists would be left free to kill, rape and behead again.
Senior Cabinet minister Michael Gove was nearly caught up in today’s violence as he was mobbed by screaming protesters in Victoria station in the afternoon.
The mob, draped in Palestinian flags, surrounded the minister and chanted “shame on you”.
Uniformed police officers had to form a ring around Mr Gove and escort him out of the station to safety.