Police say they are investigating whether any criminal offence has been committed after an MP was branded a “Nazi” by Brexit protesters outside Parliament.
Conservative MP Anna Soubry was verbally attacked while doing live interviews on College Green on Monday.
During a discussion on the BBC, people off-camera could be heard shouting “Soubry is a Nazi”.
She told interviewer Simon McCoy: “I do object to being called a Nazi, actually.
“I just think this is astonishing, this is what has happened to our country. But let’s try and move on and be positive about things.”
— norman smith (@BBCNormanS) January 7, 2019
Protesters also chanted slogans including “Liar, liar” throughout a live interview with Ms Soubry on Sky News.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “Police received a third-party report of a public order offence on Monday, 7 January, in the area of College Green, SW1.
“Officers are assessing if any crimes have been committed. There has been no arrest at this stage.”
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. https://t.co/mh4SWbiGfx
— Anna Soubry MP (@Anna_Soubry) January 7, 2019
Ms Soubry, the pro-EU MP for Broxtowe, said the behaviour of protesters was “seriously worrying”, adding: “I’m afraid the truth is that Brexit has unleashed these people. This is Britain now. This is not the country I know and love and these people do not represent our country and they need sorting out.”
The protesters were criticised by high-profile Brexit supporters, including presenter Piers Morgan, and other MPs.
Writing on Twitter, MP Douglas Carswell said: “Small crowd shouting oafish chants at TV crew outside Parliament.
Small crowd shouting oafish chants at TV crew outside Parliament. I’m not a great fan of the mainstream broadcasters, but such boorishness is out of line. Do they realise how much damage they do? pic.twitter.com/95TVj3I5zQ
— Douglas Carswell (@DouglasCarswell) January 7, 2019
“I’m not a great fan of the mainstream broadcasters, but such boorishness is out of line. Do they realise how much damage they do?”
Earlier on Monday, political commentator Owen Jones shared a video on Twitter which showed him being accosted by a group outside Parliament, including men wearing Union flags.
They could be heard calling him a “traitor” and a “horrible little man” and accusing the Labour activist of writing “fake news”.
Just met some lovely Tommy Robinson fans and I’d love for you to get to know them too pic.twitter.com/iRom8GavNy
— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) January 7, 2019
Labour MP Stephen Doughty raised the issue in the Commons during a Brexit question session and called on Speaker John Bercow to intervene.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said he hadn’t seen the incidents but said MPs were “always mindful” of the plaque to murdered MP Jo Cox which is “so dear to many… across the House”.
“I think all of us would unite on that wherever people are on the Brexit debate… all of us in this House should be able to air their views with respect,” he said.
Mr Bercow said he was “keeping a close eye on events” as he voiced concerns over incidents involving “aggressive and threatening behaviour” towards MPs.
The Speaker also 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”.
I need security to escort me from my place of work
These people are not pro-Brexit. They are pro-intimidation
They specifically target me and scream ‘slag’, or‘fucking fascist’ over and over and over again and those are just some comments I can mention in polite company. https://t.co/KyR5eXD7ED
— Kay Burley (@KayBurley) January 7, 2019
Theresa May’s official spokesman said he had not discussed the incident involving Ms Soubry with the Prime Minister, but added: “The Prime Minister has been very clear that nobody involved in the political process should be subjected to abuse or harassment.
“They should be free to do their job without any form of intimidation and it is clearly unacceptable when that isn’t the case.”
Asked whether MPs should be offered greater protection while the “meaningful vote” on Brexit is debated over the next few days, the PM’s spokesman said: “There are existing laws in relation to public order, harassment and making threats.
“Where laws are already in place, it’s important that they are respected.”