After the widespread backlash against the policing of the Sarah Everard vigil over the weekend, the government and Labour have managed to find some common ground. While both parties raised concerns over the handling of the event, Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer agreed that the Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick should not resign.
However, any hopes for cross-party unity on the issue received short shrift in the chamber today. The Home Secretary appeared before the Commons to update MPs on the government response to the Met's policing of the event. Patel began by talking about the sense of national unity in the aftermath of Everard's death. She said it had 'rightly ignited' anger at the danger posed to women by 'predatory men' — adding that all women could relate to the stories being shared online as too many women have had to take special measures in the past when walking home in a bid to feel safer.
Although Patel stressed that she was listening to women and girls (and spoke of working with MPs across the House), she also warned against protests while Covid restrictions are in place. She also ended with a return to party politics. Patel criticised Labour over its plan to oppose the second reading of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill suggesting this could put women in danger.
While shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds began by sharing Patel's sentiments that Everard's death had highlighted the harassment of women and sparked a national conversation, he quickly diverged with government opinion. Thomas-Symonds said that police mishandling of the Sarah Everard vigil on Saturday ought to serve as a 'red warning light' that the government should not be 'rushing through laws cracking down on protest'. For all the supposed agreement on the need to unite, party lines have quickly returned.