Furious Tory backlash against 'snivelling cowards' who use violent jibes towards Theresa May
A furious row has exploded in the Conservative party over the violent language used to attack Theresa May over her Brexit plans.
Tory MPs lined up to condemn “spineless cowards” they accused of briefing “dangerous” comments to the media and who “learned nothing” after the brutal murder of former Labour MP Jo Cox.
Pro-Brexit MPs told weekend newspapers that the Prime Minister had entered the “killing zone” and should “bring her own noose” to a meeting of angry backbenchers this week.
Another told the Sunday Times: “The moment is coming when the knife gets heated, stuck in her front and twisted. She'll be dead soon.”
Health Select Committee Chair Sarah Wollaston fumed: “Shame on the spineless cowards on my benches who hide behind anonymity to use such disturbing & violent language about their own colleague & PM @theresa_may.
“Totally unacceptable. Have they learned nothing following the assassination of Jo Cox?”
Tory MP Paul Masterton said: “If I was told to ‘bring my own noose’ to my next surgery, that I'd be ‘knived,’ or ‘assassinated,’ my staff would report it to the police.
“I don't really see why comments made by snivelling cowards on the back benches towards the Prime Minister should be treated differently.”
Pro-Brexit Tory MP Mark Francois agreed that the language was “unacceptable” - but he launched something of a defence of the perpetrators.
“The problem is there is a lot of frustration on backbenches at the moment among both leavers and remainers just at the general state of play,” he told the Today programme on Radio 4.
He added: “The difficulty is when you try to convey that to No 10, no-one is listening.
“They are in the bunker and they only want to her people that agree with them and that is not a healthy situation for any political party to be in.”
But that won him a stinging rebuke from pro-Remain Tory MPs Antoinette Sandbach and Anna Soubry, who said she was “appalled” by his “shameful” excuse.
Former minister Nick Boles meanwhile said the MP behind the comment about knifing the Prime Minister was a “very small man, in every respect”. He added: “Stop reporting his appalling statements.”
Conor Burns, a Conservative MP and close ally of Boris Johnson, also branded the comments "totally unacceptable" and called for "courtesy and mutual respect" in the heated Brexit debate.
The comments also drew sharp condemnation from a senior Labour MP.
Home Affairs Select Committee chair Yvette Cooper chimed in to say it was "about time" the person in question was unmasked.
Speaking on Radio 4 she added: “This is vile and dehumanising language towards a woman MP, towards a prime minister who - no matter how much you might disagree with her - she is somebody who is doing a job in public life.
"Nobody should be subject to that kind of violent language which I think is normalising violence in public debate at a time when we lost Jo Cox, we've had threats against Rosy Cooper, we've had other violent death threats against women MPs."