John Bercow ‘keeping a close eye’ after MP branded a ‘Nazi’ outside Parliament

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John Bercow ‘keeping a close eye’ after MP branded a ‘Nazi’ outside Parliament

Speaker of the House of Commons voiced concerns over "aggressive and threatening behaviour" towards MPs including Anna Soubry

John Bercow,

Photo credit: Rick Findler/PA Wire
John Bercow, Photo credit: Rick Findler/PA Wire

Commons Speaker John Bercow has said he is “keeping a close eye on events” as he voiced concerns over incidents involving “aggressive and threatening behaviour” towards MPs.

Mr Bercow, who is Jewishm told the Commons he was “concerned” about “what seems to be a pattern of protest” targeted in particular at women, adding that female MPs and female journalists had been subjected to “aggressive protest and what many would regard as harassment”.

Tory pro-EU MP Anna Soubry earlier hit out at Brexit protesters after being called a “Nazi” by a mob outside Parliament while doing live interviews on Monday on College Green.

Mr Bercow’s comments came following a point of order by Tory MP Nick Boles (Grantham and Stamford) raising concerns about Brexit protests and the personal safety of MPs.

The Board of Deputies also condemned the abuse, saying in a tweet that it was “Disgusting that Anna Soubry has been subjected to this vile abuse.”

Mr Bercow said: “I have indeed, I must tell the House, been made aware of recent incidents involving aggressive and threatening behaviour towards members and others by assorted protesters who have donned the yellow vests used in France.

“And when I referred a moment ago to recent incidents, I am more specifically referring to reports I’ve had of incidents that have taken place today.”

He added: “The House authorities are not technically responsible for the safety of members off the estate. That is and remains a matter for the Metropolitan Police, but naturally I take this issue very seriously and so I am sure do the police who have been made very well aware of our concerns.”

He went on: “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 seems to be a pattern of protest targeted in particular, I don’t say exclusively, but in particular at women. Female members, and in a number of cases I’m advised, female journalists have been subjected to aggressive protest and what many would regard as harassment.

“I can assure the House that I am keeping a close eye on events and I will speak to those who advise me about these matters.”

Labour’s Mary Creagh (Wakefield) said abuse of MPs was being filmed to raise funds for far-right trolls.

Raising a point of order, she asked the Speaker to ask social media companies to remove the films.

Ms Creagh highlighted “vile, abusive, thuggery and harassment” being directed “specifically at women”.

“It’s now being Facebook live-streamed in order to raise revenue for these far right people to fund their trolling activities, online and in the real world,” she said.

“Can I ask that you write to Twitter and Facebook (so) these individual sites, wherever they pop up and under whose name they appear, are shut down so these individuals are not profiting from filming their abuse of MPs who are rightly speaking out on the important national issues of the day.”

Mr Bercow replied: “I have heard it here from her for the first time and I will carefully reflect on it.”

The Board of Deputies also condemned the abuse, saying in a tweet that it was “Disgusting that Anna Soubry has been subjected to this vile abuse.”

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