Some demonstrations aimed at MPs over their stance on the war in Gaza have “crossed the line from protest to intimidation”, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said.
The Labour frontbencher condemned protests outside MPs’ homes as “totally unacceptable” and urged those calling for a ceasefire to do so “in a responsible way”.
The Labour leadership abstained on a Commons vote on Wednesday to call for a ceasefire in Gaza but Sir Keir Starmer suffered the biggest rebellion of his leadership as 56 of his MPs, including 10 shadow ministers and parliamentary aides, defied the party whip to vote in favour.
The Labour leadership has instead called for longer “humanitarian pauses” and for Israel to “protect hospitals” and end the “siege” on water, food and other essentials into Gaza.
Asked on Sky News’s Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips programme about protests outside MPs’ offices, Ms Reeves said: “I believe in the right to protest, I don’t believe in the right to intimidate.
“Some of those protests, I believe, over the last few days have crossed the line from protest to intimidation. Protesting outside people’s homes, putting pressure on them in that way, I think it’s totally unacceptable.
“In a democracy we elect our MPs and they make decisions. They represent their constituents but they also listen to all of the evidence. Anything that would attempt to intimidate an MP to vote in a certain way or to put pressure on them – it is anti-democratic in my view.”
Ms Reeves added: “I would urge those people who are conducting those protests: I understand why you call for a ceasefire but do things in a responsible way and don’t intimidate or put pressure in that way on elected representatives, or anyone else for that matter.”
She told BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme that the “huge pressure” MPs have been put under leading up to the vote and afterwards is “very concerning”, adding: “(Former home secretary) Suella Braverman’s comments about these being hate marches et cetera are appalling but I don’t support the intimidation of members of Parliament.”
Ms Reeves added: “This sort of intimidation and taking protests to people’s homes, I think that goes beyond the line.”
She said it has not happened to her but has to some of her colleagues.
MPs on both sides of the ceasefire debate have faced abuse since Wednesday’s Commons vote.
Shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens had her constituency office vandalised after abstaining on the Gaza vote, while Naz Shah, who quit the front bench to support a ceasefire, said she has received “Islamophobic hatred”.