BUSY rail stations have been left without poppy sellers amid fears of more pro-Palestine protests.
Rishi Sunak urged the nation to rally round the annual appeal.
Busy UK rail stations have been left without poppy sellers amid fears of more pro-Palestine protests, like this one at London’s Liverpool StreetCredit: Getty
Poppy sellers at Charing Cross Station in London were surrounded by pro-Palestinian protestersCredit: Getty
Volunteers selling the Poppies have disappeared from stations after some were punched and shoved at transport hub stallsCredit: Darren Fletcher
He told Britain’s top cop he would be accountable for any trouble at Saturday’s Armistice Day demo.
Volunteers have disappeared after some were punched and shoved at transport hub stalls.
Sales raised £42.2million for the charity last year but there are fears its coffers will be hit.
Mr Sunak told The Sun: “I am appalled that some poppy sellers — many veterans who are the heart of our collective remembrance each year — have experienced intimidation and abuse when volunteering at train stations.
“The police have my full support to take action against this deplorable behaviour which runs against everything we have fought and stood for as a nation.
“I, like millions across the UK, will be wearing my poppy with pride this weekend. I urge commuters to take a moment to thank the volunteers who support our brave armed forces and buy a poppy.”
A 500-strong demo was held at Liverpool Street last Tuesday.
Staff confirmed sellers would not be returning this year.
Three dismayed volunteers were pictured surrounded at Charing Cross by a mob at the weekend.
And just tonight protesters staged a sit-in at Brighton station.
Tory MP and former Veterans Minister Tobias Ellwood added : “No one should feel intimidated when selling poppies.
“Voices across our communities should air their unwavering support for this traditional but so appreciated annual appeal.
“Funds generated over these critical couple of weeks are distributed to so many service-facing charities providing vital support for injured personnel and veterans.”
Former Army chief Lord Richard Dannatt added: “This is an important national activity and should be policed to allow those who fought and fell for our freedom to be remembered with gratitude.”
The Sun visited London Liverpool Street, used by 90,000 commuters a day, and found no Legion volunteer sellers yesterday.
Three volunteers were at St Pancras — one wearing a bodycam. He said: “This is just part of our uniform now.”
Retired nurse Alison Chalmers, 76, of Essex, said: “I was hoping to find a poppy. We should be proud at this time, not scared. How have we got to the point where people are made to feel afraid to share a symbol of respect?”
Fellow commuter Laura Evans, 41, said: “It’s disgusting that it’s come to this. Unfortunately that’s the world we live in and there’s not enough police to protect everybody.”
Staff at London Bridge said a lone seller went home after morning rush-hour, adding: “He’s worked his two weeks. It’s all he’s doing.” Finance worker David Ward, 34, of Greenwich, South East London, said: “Surely they haven’t stopped selling already? I’ve got mine but loads won’t have. It’s a joke.”
The Legion, founded in 1921 to aid troops and veterans, admitted it has faced a volunteer shortage.
A giant poppy hung at the entrance to London King’s Cross but a worker said of sellers: “I’m not sure what’s happened to them.”
Commuter Adam Hillman, 54, of Lincoln, said: “I would have loved to buy a poppy here today.
“It is dreadful for them being pushed out because of something that is nothing to do with them.” At Euston in central London, a worker said: “They used to be here for three weeks, but since Monday they have disappeared. It would be awful if they felt scared.”
Staff at Victoria said no sellers had been there all week.
James Lane, 79, of Littlehampton, West Sussex, who worked in the Royal Household, said: “It’s so important for us to remember our heroes. Lots of family was lost in the wars.”
Poppies were on sale at Charing Cross and Waterloo.
Outside the capital, sellers were absent from Leeds having set up stalls last week. A security worker said: “I’m not surprised. There has been a tense atmosphere.
He added: “They’ve decided to put their safety first.”
Rishi Sunak last night urged the nation to rally round the annual appeal after fear that sales to raise funds for veterans will tumbleCredit: AFP
Met Police top cop Mark Rowley has refused to ban the marches in LondonCredit: PA
Paralegal Nicola Smith, 29, said: “It’s such a busy station and it must raise so much money.”
Commuters did rally to the cause at Birmingham New Street.
Poppies were also on sale at Edinburgh Waverley despite claims of an attack, which were later denied.
At Glasgow Central, poppy seller Liz White, 71, of Motherwell, said: “I lost two uncles in World War Two. I just want to give back.” The Royal British Legion said: “We are reliant on the generous time volunteers offer and we arrange collections as widely as possible but cannot provide volunteer cover at all locations throughout the appeal.”
The British Transport Police were approached for comment.
- Additional reporting by Harry Cole, Eleanor Sharples, Julia Atherley and Jerome Starkey