The Conservative MP for Sutton and Cheam has hit back at school-age protesters who “wanted to spend time shouting” at him and forced him to cancel a constituent surgery.

Around 80 students protested outside the gates of Greenshaw High School, in Sutton, to demand Paul Scully MP calls for an end to arm sales to Israel on a visit to the school. 

The protest, organised by Sutton Friends of Palestine (SFOP), took place outside the school gates on Thursday (April 25). 

After protesting outside the school gates for more than half an hour, Mr Scully met protesters alongside the school’s Headteacher, Nick House.

Mr Scully outlined his position on the Gaza conflict and rejected calls of SFOP campaigner and 19-year-old Greenshaw student Tommy Oliver to oppose arms sales in Parliament. 

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Mr Oliver explained the protesters waited outside the school from 11.10am until Mr Scully appeared at about 12pm.

He said: “We did intend to wait for as long as it took, whether he was going to just drive past us and we’d just be able to show some visible support from Palestine or if he was actually going to come and talk to us and we could ask him to do what we want him to do.”

Mr Scully, who was visiting the school to meet politics students, eventually emerged to meet protesters before he was due to visit the Israeli embassy later that day.

He told protesters he wasn’t hiding before answering questions from them.

He told the crowd: “I do believe Israel has a right to exist and has a right to self-defence but what is happening at the moment is way beyond that.”

When asked by a protester if he would say Palestine also has a right to exist and defend itself, Scully responded: “Of course Palestine has a right to exist. I have been to the West Bank, I have spoken to Palestinians there, and have spoken to Israelis that live on the other side of the Erez Crossing.”

He added: “I want to be able to get to a point where we have a proper two-state solution that includes Palestine and Israel, it’s really important but at the moment we don’t have either side that wants to get back to that.”

This response drew the ire of the protesters, who proceeded to challenge him on his decision to support arms sales to Israel. Mr Scully responded saying: “We have one the highest standards of arms sales in the world, we have a committee that looks at that in detail.

“I don’t have the information and don’t want to prejudge what that committee will do but it should keep looking at exactly that.”

Following the protest, Mr Oliver told the LDRS: “Obviously, the general gist is that he is not going to change his stance. It was not an answer to our satisfaction but [it was] expected nonetheless.”

When asked why Greenshaw students were particularly active in their support for Palestine, Mr Oliver told the LDRS: “I think it’s because we’re making sure there’s an organised group that will talk about it. At Greenshaw we have started…giving everyone a space to talk about it. Maybe that support is more passive in other schools.”

The school protest comes following an active month for the SFOP, who have previously held protests inside the Grennell Road school as well as a large demonstration outside of Mr Scully’s constituency office. Earlier this year, he announced he would be stepping down as an MP at the next election after nine years in the role.

When approached for comment, Mr Scully told the LDRS: “I am surprised that the protesters actually understood what my position was, having barely allowed me to punctuate the sentences of one of the more vocal protesters in particular.

“We’re all horrified about what we are seeing and reading about as the conflict continues in Gaza. I have been in the middle of a genocidal conflict in Myanmar. I have met Palestinians and Israelis in the region and continue to discuss how we can bring this complex but horrific conflict to an end.

“Israel need to take stock of the sheer number of civilian casualties. Hamas needs to release the hostages. It’s ordinary Palestinians who are bearing the brunt of this as well as the families of those still held captive.

“My main take away was not that the protesters wanted me to change my mind but that they wanted to spend time shouting at me. Parliament has the Committee on Arms Export Control which examines the UK approach to arms sales, one of the toughest regimes in the world.

“Of course I want to see an end to the conflict but one that will last and allow a return to discussion of a two-state solution, not a blanket ceasefire call which will be ignored by both Israel and Hamas. This is about saving lives, not salving our conscience.

“As a result of the way the protest was arranged and unfolded I had to cancel a surgery based on security advice and the venue hosts, meaning that people who wanted to raise personal concerns have been unable to do so. The protest was in stark contrast with the fabulous exchanges that I had with students within Greenshaw School about a whole range of issues. It is so important that we discuss these emotive issues with respect.”

A spokesperson from Sutton Labour told the LDRS: “We support the young people from our borough, and further afield who clearly care deeply on this issue and are calling for peace from their elected officials. 

“We were immensely concerned to learn that Sutton Conservatives attempted to illegally shut down previous peace vigils organised by children from our borough and believe we should be encouraging young people to voice their concerns and peacefully protest – not attacking them when they do a better job than our elected officials. 

“Sutton Labour Councillors and our members have been present at each peace vigil and we have spoken of the plight of the many thousands of innocent people on all sides killed, injured or traumatised. Labour Councillors were first out to stand up for peace and justice – making our position known.”