Boris Johnson does not believe the UK is a racist country – but acknowledges that discrimination is an ongoing problem, Downing Street said.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the Government was not complacent about the need to do more to tackle racism.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “The PM doesn’t doubt that there continues to be discrimination and racism, but does not agree that this is a racist country.
“We have made very significant progress on this issue, but there remains more to do and we will not be complacent in our efforts to stamp out racism and discrimination where it happens.”
People have a right to protest peacefully & while observing social distancing but they have no right to attack the police. These demonstrations have been subverted by thuggery - and they are a betrayal of the cause they purport to serve. Those responsible will be held to account.— Boris Johnson #StayAlert (@BorisJohnson) June 7, 2020
The Prime Minister has condemned the “thuggery” which marred anti-racism protests triggered by the death of George Floyd.
Scotland Yard said 36 people had been arrested during Sunday’s protests in London, and 35 officers reported suffering injuries.
In Bristol, protesters tore down a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and tossed it into the city’s harbour.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “People can campaign for the removal of a statue, but what happened yesterday was a criminal act and when the criminal law is broken that is unacceptable and the police will want to hold to account those responsible.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was “completely wrong” for the statue to be removed in that way, but told LBC Radio the monument to a slaver should have been taken down long before.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has been having daily calls with police leaders, including talks over the weekend and this morning with the Metropolitan Police and Avon and Somerset Police, Downing Street said.
Mr Johnson received an update from Met chief Dame Cressida Dick on Sunday night.
“They have our full support in tackling any violence, vandalism and disorderly behaviour,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
“It is completely unacceptable they were subjected to attacks over the weekend.”
Police commanders had to take into account a number of factors – including the safety of their officers – before deciding how to respond to protests, the spokesman said.