Prime Minister finally cuts short holiday as London burns

Elizabeth Fournier
PRIME MINISTER David Cameron has returned to London this morning to chair a crisis meeting on the riots, as violence spread across the country and fires blazed in hotspots throughout the capital.

Downing Street confirmed last night that Cameron will cut his holiday short to return to London overnight and chair the meeting of the Cobra emergency committee as officials seek to restore control after a third night of unrest. Around 1,700 extra police are already being deployed to help calm the capital.

The Prime Minister has been under increasing pressure in recent days to come back to the UK, as the riots spread to Hackney, Peckham, Deptford, Lewisham, Clapham and Croydon, and shopkeepers as far afield as Birmingham and Liverpool reported attacks.

The unrest has already forced home secretary Theresa May to cut her summer break short, as she returned to attend a meeting with police chiefs yesterday. “The violence we’ve seen, the looting we’ve seen... this is sheer criminality,” she said.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson also bowed to pressure to return to London last night to deal with the riots, after widespread criticism for his absence.

One of the Mayor’s first jobs will be to reassure residents and tourists ahead of next year’s 2012 Olympic Games, with many foreign media outlets focusing on the threat to the security of the capital – especially to the Olympic Park in east London.

City A.M.’s calls to the Mayor’s office were not returned last night.