David Cameron vowed on Thursday that he would not turn back on trebling tuition fees and condemned the students who tried to ransack Conservative headquarters Wednesday, saying the full force of the law should be used to prosecute violent protesters.
In a round of interviews in Seoul, where he is attending the G20 summit, Cameron said: “We won’t go back. Look, even if we wanted to, we shouldn’t go back to the idea that university is free.”
He also urged the police to learn lessons from Wednesday’s riot, saying there were 30,000 police officers in London yet only a thin blue line of extremely brave police officers was available to “to hold back a bunch of people intent on violence and destruction”.
He also insisted he had a mandate to push through the reforms to higher education, saying: “I think the will of the public was expressed at the time of the election when they rejected debt and deficit and putting off these difficult decisions under Labour, and they chose a new approach and we’ve got to be true to that and stick to that”.
He said he was very glad the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, had called for an inquiry into the policing of the event, saying: “I think we need to learn the lessons rapidly.” He said there had not been remotely enough police officers, adding that there may have been failures of intelligence. The Metropolitan police said 51 people were arrested as a result of Wednesday’s disorder.