Dozens of MPs demand better police protection at Westminster following Anna Soubry abuse
Dozens of MPs have signed a letter to the head of the Metropolitan Police to demand better protection against abuse from far-right protesters outside Parliament.
At least 55 parliamentarians have signed the letter to Cressida Dick after Speaker John Bercow called on officers to do more to guard MPs following criticism of their lack of response to abuse hurled at Anna Soubry.
The Conservative MP, who is vocally anti-Brexit, was branded a “Nazi” and "liar" by shouting onlookers while being interviewed on TV, before being pursued down the street, where the same men called her a “fascist”.
The Broxtowe MP told Sky News at the time: “I don’t have a problem with people demonstrating and making their views heard. I have a real problem with people who call me a traitor, or ‘Soubry, you Nazi’.”
Afterwards, Ms Soubry tweeted: "Apparently MPs & politicians are meant to accept it as part of the democratic process.
“I fail to see why journalists and technicians should be subjected to the same abuse & intimidation as the police stand by and do nothing. They tried to stop me getting into Parliament.”
Left-wing political commentator Owen Jones was also confronted by the group, and filmed them dishing out a raft of insults towards him as he walked around the same area.
But in a letter sent to the Met Commissioner, MPs from across the political divide said it is “utterly unacceptable” for MPs, journalists and the public “to be subject to abuse, intimidation and threatening behaviour and indeed potentially serious offences while they go about their work".
“After months of peaceful and calm protests by groups representing a range of political views on Brexit, an ugly element of individuals with strong far-right and extreme-right connections, which your officers are well aware of, have increasingly engaged in intimidatory and potentially criminal acts targeting members of parliament, journalists, activists and members of the public,” it reads.
“We understand there are ongoing investigations but there appears to be an ongoing lack of coordination in the response from the police and appropriate authorities including with Westminster borough policing, and despite clear assurances this would be dealt with following incidents before Christmas, there have been a number of further serious and well publicised incidents today.”
Speaking in the Commons yesterday Labour’s Mary Creagh, condemned the “vile, misogynist thuggery, abuse and harassment”, which she said was particularly concerning following the murder of her colleague Jo Cox in 2016.
Meanwhile Mr Bercow told MPs: “Peaceful protest is a vital democratic freedom, but so is the right of elected members to go about their business without being threatened or abused, and that includes access to and from the media stands in Abingdon Green.
“I am concerned at this stage about what seem to be a pattern of protest targeted in particular – I don’t say exclusively – at women.”