Sir Nicholas Soames told the Daily Telegraph the incident in which the word “racist” was scrawled on the monument shows that British society has “lost its compass”. It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday it was “shameful” that the statue of the former prime minister, who helped lead Britain to victory against Hitler in the Second World War, was at “risk of attack by violent protesters”.
The Conservative Party leader said the country had “made huge progress in tackling racism” and would continue to do so.
But, after saying he understood “why people feel outraged” at what happened to George Floyd in the United States, he urged people to stay away from protests scheduled for the weekend, predicting they would “end in deliberate and calculated violence”.
Sir Nicholas backed Mr Johnson’s condemnation of disorder during last weekend’s Black Lives Matter protests.
He told The Telegraph: “I find it extraordinary that millions and millions of people all over the world who look up to Britain will be astonished that a statue of Churchill and the Cenotaph, our national war memorial, could have been defaced in this disgusting way.
“These people who are marching did not set out to do this, but a very, very small, extremely explosive group of people who have made a practice of hijacking entirely responsible demonstrations are behaving in an unspeakable and cowardly manner.
“It feels like a society that has lost its compass.”
He also said London mayor Sadiq Khan was right to heed police advice and board up the statue and the nearby Cenotaph.
Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel has called for the statue in Parliament Square to be uncovered “immediately”.
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In an attempt to avoid a repeat of last week’s violent clashes with police, protesters have been told they must stick to the planned route from Hyde Park to Whitehall.
Officers fear the anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US last month could be targeted by counter-demonstrations by far-right groups.
Commander Bas Javid from London’s Metropolitan Police, added: “I absolutely understand why people want to make their voices heard.
“There is a really strong depth of feeling out in the communities, but the Government direction is that we remain in a health pandemic and people are asked not to gather in large groups.
“By doing so, you are putting your own safety, and that of your family or friends at risk. We are asking you not to come to London, and let your voices be heard in other ways.
“We all saw the crowds that came together last weekend, and the demonstration on the whole was peaceful and reinforced the legitimacy of feelings within our communities.”