Far-Right threat­ens Bri­tish MPs Bri­tain

Sunday Star-Times - - World -

Po­lice are de­ploy­ing pa­trols out­side Bri­tish MPs’ con­stituency of­fices this week­end and have warned MPs to take safety pre­cau­tions, amid con­cerns that they might be tar­geted by far­Right pro­test­ers.

Mem­bers of the pro-Brexit ‘‘yel­low vest’’ move­ment have been us­ing closed so­cial me­dia groups to dis­cuss how they might sin­gle out spe­cific Re­mainer MPs and ‘‘get them out of of­fice’’. The move­ment, which came to promi­nence this week when mem­bers abused Con­ser­va­tive MP Anna Soubry out­side Par­lia­ment, is plan­ning a se­ries of events across the coun­try this week­end, in­clud­ing a march in Lon­don.

Hope Not Hate, the anti-racism or­gan­i­sa­tion, said the far-Right was at­tempt­ing to hi­jack the Brexit de­bate. It said a ‘‘mot­ley band of far-Right ac­tivists’’ had al­ready held protests out­side the of­fices of Re­main-sup­port­ing Labour MPs in north­east Eng­land.

MPs in Cardiff, one of the cities where Hope Not Hate suggested the ac­tivists might strike, con­firmed that they had dis­cussed their fears with po­lice. One, who did not wish to be named, said they had been as­sured that their con­stituency of­fice would be mon­i­tored by pa­trolling of­fi­cers.

Anna McMor­rin, the Cardiff North MP, said po­lice had told her to take pre­cau­tions and not ad­ver­tise her where­abouts. ‘‘I’m not wor­ried but I’m dis­mayed. It is pretty shock­ing,’’ she said. She had al­ready stopped ad­ver­tis­ing where she held surg­eries with con­stituents.

Three cases of al­leged abuse and ha­rass­ment by pro­test­ers out­side Par­lia­ment have been re­ferred by Scot­land Yard for con­sid­er­a­tion by pros­e­cu­tors. The Crown Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice has been asked to ‘‘test’’ whether the be­hav­iour, in­clud­ing the heck­ling of Soubry, dur­ing which she was la­belled a Nazi, went be­yond law­ful protest.

A group of pro-Brexit men has re­peat­edly tar­geted spe­cific politi­cians, jour­nal­ists and com­men­ta­tors on Col­lege Green, the area op­po­site Par­lia­ment used by broad­cast­ers.

A se­cu­rity source said there was alarm at the be­hav­iour be­cause the ag­gres­sive tar­get­ing of MPs raised the spec­tre of the mur­der of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was killed by a far-Right ter­ror­ist in June 2016, dur­ing the Brexit ref­er­en­dum cam­paign.

Sev­eral MPs in­creased se­cu­rity ar­range­ments in their con­stituen­cies af­ter Cox’s mur­der, and some now hold con­stituency surg­eries only at se­cure lo­ca­tions equipped with CCTV. Oth­ers have stopped hold­ing ‘‘drop in’’ events and will only meet con­stituents who have made ap­point­ments.

Speaker John Ber­cow and more than 115 other MPs wrote let­ters this week to Cres­sida Dick, the Metropoli­tan Po­lice com­mis­sioner, call­ing on po­lice to tackle the ver­bal abuse be­ing meted out to Re­mainer MPs and com­men­ta­tors by ac­tivists.

Ber­cow said he had met Dick and was told that po­lice had agreed to in­crease the se­cu­rity ar­range­ments near Par­lia­ment. Steel bar­ri­ers were erected yes­ter­day out­side the Car­riage Gates en­trance, where PC Keith Palmer was mur­dered by an Is­lamist ter­ror­ist last year.

AP

Work­ers help to clear snow from in­side the Ho­tel Saen­tis in Sch­wae­galp, Switzer­land af­ter it was hit by an avalanche dur­ing the se­vere win­ter weather grip­ping Eu­rope.

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