MP 'forced to change Brexit bill stance' following threats from angry voters
An MP has been cowed into voting against their conscience on Brexit after threats to their safety and that of their family, it was claimed today.
Prominent Tory backbencher Anna Soubry said colleagues were being spooked by angry voters over their positions on Brexit, and one would be unable to vote "in accordance with their conscience" as a result.
Ms Soubry also revealed that one MP had to be accompanied to a public event have six armed undercover officer because of death threats they had received over Brexit.
The astonishing claims came as MPs prepared to vote on a number of hotly debated amendments that were tacked onto the flagship Brexit bill by peers.
The nature of the so-called ‘meaningful vote’ on the final deal with Brussels and whether Britain should adopt a Norway-type arrangement are among the amendments in the EU Withdrawal Bill.
Broxtowe MP Ms Soubry spoke out before the debate got underway in the Commons to warn that the bitter divisions left by the Brexit process were taking their toll on parliamentary democracy.
“At least one [MP] on these benches will today and tomorrow not vote in accordance with their conscience because of threats to their personal safety, to their parliamentary staff and members of their family,” she said.
“Mr Speaker, do you take that as a very serious threat to the democracy of this place?” she asked John Bercow.
“And if you do would you expect a senior member of Her Majesty’s Government to come forward and make it clear that this will not be tolerated by any party against any member of parliament?”
The Speaker reponded: “I would hope and am confident that today’s debates and tomorrow’s debates would take place in an atmosphere of mutual respect in which opinions sincerely held are robustly articulated.
“But no one in this place under any circumstances, should be under threat.”
Speaking during the debate on the bill, Ms Soubry spoke of "death threats which mean one of our number had to attend a public meeting with six armed undercover police - that is the country we have created and it's got to stop".
Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom added: “On behalf of the Government, any threats of violence or intimidation are utterly unacceptable to the Government.
“The Government will absolutely uphold the right of every member to do as they believe is the right thing to do.”