The survey found 65 percent thought the iconic statue should remain in its place in front of the House of Commons but one in five people said it should now be moved to a museum. The statue was boarded up to protect it during a series of Black Lives Matter protests in the capital. It was eventually uncovered last Wednesday in time of Emmanuel Macron’s visit to London to commemorate France’s wartime leader Charles de Gaulle’s call from the capital to the French people to resist the Nazi occupation.
Sir Winston’s granddaughter Emma Soames said she had been “shocked” to see the statue being boarded up but understood why it had been necessary.
Ms Soames told BBC Radio 4 she acknowledged some of the World War Two prime minister’s views would be seen as unacceptable today but argued he remained a hero to millions of British people.
She said: “He was a powerful, complex man with infinitely more good than bad in the ledger of his life.”
Ms Soames said the statue might be safer in a museum if people were genuinely infuriated by its presence in Westminster.
But she added: “I think Parliament Square would be a poorer place without him.”
Momentum has been building among Tory MPs in favour of a Desecration of War Memorials Bill, which would create a specific offence.
Boris Johnson confirmed he was examining such new legislation to target those who vandalise war memorials.
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Home Secretary Priti Patel has already declared her support for the move, which follows the toppling of the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, Cenotaph graffiti in London, and threats to target other statues, including the one of Sir Winston.
Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions last week, Conservative MP Andrea Jenkyns said: “Following the disgraceful events of the last week with thugs defacing national monuments, including Churchill and Queen Victoria, and offending the memory of hero Pc Keith Palmer, what will the Prime Minister do to uphold British values and carry out the rule of law?”
Mr Johnson replied: “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 also confirm we are looking at new ways in which we may legislate against vandalism of war memorials.”
Tory Lord Ribeiro said the statues should remain in place but with more information attached explaining how the person achieved their wealth and status.
Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford acknowledged some statues around Westminster were “offensive” to her but said they were a “learning point” for history.
She said: “To take things down is to erase history and erasing history is absolutely not what we should be about in educating our children about the misdemeanours of the past and the great things of the past.
“We should be taking down racism not legacies of our history, which seek to educate us all.”
The survey, conducted on behalf of The Sunday Telegraph, questioned 2,000 adults from across the UK.