Po­lice to up pres­ence at West­min­ster as MP abused

The Scotsman - - Front Page - By RUS­SELL JACK­SON

More po­lice re­sources will be de­ployed around West­min­ster in the build-up to next week’s his­toric Brexit vote af­ter one MP was branded a Nazi by an an­gry mob.

Con­ser­va­tive MP Anna Soubry was fol­lowed to the Palace of West­min­ster by protesters, prompt­ing the Com­mons Speaker to de­mand po­lice tackle the “ag­gres­sive, threat­en­ing and in­tim­i­dat­ing be­hav­iour” to­wards politi­cians.

The abuse di­rected at Ms Soubry was branded “dis­grace­ful” by a spokesman for Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May.

Po­lice are to step up their op­er­a­tion around Par­lia­ment in the run up to next week’s Brexit deal vote af­ter MPS were sub­jected to in­tim­i­da­tion and ha­rass­ment just yards from the House of Com­mons.

Deputy As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Lau­rence Tay­lor said Scot­land Yard would be “en­hanc­ing the polic­ing pres­ence” af­ter MP Anna Soubry was branded a Nazi by a mob dur­ing tele­vi­sion in­ter­views and then fol­lowed to the Palace of West­min­ster.

The Com­mons Speaker de­manded po­lice tackle the “ag­gres­sive, threat­en­ing and in­tim­i­dat­ing be­hav­iour” to­wards politi­cians and jour­nal­ists out­side Par­lia­ment.

In his let­ter to Metropoli­tan Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Cres­sida Dick, John Ber­cow hit out at “toxic at­tacks” and called for of­fi­cers to in­ter­vene when protesters over­stepped the bound­aries of peace­ful protest.

The Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fi­cial spokesman said yes­ter­day the Cab­i­net had agreed that the abuse Ms Soubry suf­fered was “dis­grace­ful and un­ac­cept­able”.

Mr Tay­lor said that po­lice of­fi­cers on duty out­side Par­lia­ment had been given clear direc­tions “that if they wit­ness crim­i­nal be­hav­iour then there is an ex­pec­ta­tion that an ar­rest will be made”.

He added: “We’ve re­viewed our polic­ing plan on the back of in­ci­dents yes­ter­day. You will see a vis­i­ble polic­ing pres­ence [near Par­lia­ment]. We’ve had a polic­ing pres­ence there for a num­ber of months with on­go­ing protest.

“We recog­nise the chal­lenges there at the mo­ment and cer­tainly lead­ing up to the vote next week we will be en­hanc­ing the polic­ing pres­ence and we will en­sure that we have ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures in place to at­tempt as far as pos­si­ble to re­as­sure peo­ple that they can go about their lives with­out fear of ha­rass­ment or alarm.”

The force is as­sess­ing whether any crime was com­mit­ted by the protesters who hurled abuse at Ms Soubry and cam­paign­ers Owen Jones and Femi Olu­wole on Mon­day.

Protesters could be heard chant­ing “Soubry is a Nazi” as she ap­peared on BBC News from col­lege green, across the road from Par­lia­ment.

Protesters also chanted slo­gans in­clud­ing “liar, liar” through­out a live in­ter­view she did with Sky News.

Ear­lier on Mon­day, po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor Owen Jones shared a video on Twit­ter that 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”.

The in­ci­dents prompted a wave of crit­i­cism from politi­cians and com­men­ta­tors from across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum.

At yes­ter­day’s Cab­i­net meet­ing in Down­ing Street, min­is­ters con­demned the ha­rass­ment suf­fered by Ms Soubry.

Theresa May told col­leagues “this is not how de­bate should be con­ducted in our coun­try”, said the PM’S of­fi­cial spokesman.

Mean­while, Brexit sec­re­tary Steve Bar­clay faced crit­i­cism af­ter link­ing the abuse faced by Ms soubry to the cam­paign for a sec­ond Brexit ref­er­en­dum.

Asked on BBC Ra­dio 4’s To­day about the prospect of a new vote, he said: “That would be hugely dam­ag­ing to democ­racy, to our pol­i­tics.

“We saw in the ap­palling scenes out­side Par­lia­ment in the way that my col­league Anna Soubry was dis­grace­fully treated yes­ter­day how di­vi­sive this process has been.”

Labour’s Chuka Umunna branded Mr Bar­clay’s com­ments as “dis­grace­ful”, ad­ding: “The no­tion we should be in­tim­i­dated into not hold­ing demo­cratic votes is de­plorable.”

PM suf­fers de­feat in Com­mons as MPS vote to limit the pow­ers of Trea­sury un­der nodeal Brexit

Rus­sell Jack­son

Theresa May suf­fered a ma­jor back­bench re­bel­lion as MPS sig­nalled their op­po­si­tion to a no-deal Brexit by de­feat­ing the Gov­ern­ment in the Com­mons last night.

Twenty Con­ser­va­tives sup­ported an amend­ment tabled by Labour for­mer min­is­ter Yvette Cooper to the Bud­get-en­act­ing Fi­nance (No. 3) Bill, ac­cord­ing to the divi­sion list.

Her pro­posal is aimed at re­strict­ing the UK Gov­ern­ment’s free­dom to use the Bill to make tax changes linked to a no-deal Brexit with­out the “ex­plicit con­sent” of Par­lia­ment.

In­stead, the pow­ers in the Bill could only come into force if the Com­mons has ap­proved a Brexit deal, if the Gov­ern­ment seeks to ex­tend Ar­ti­cle 50 or the Com­mons has ap­proved

leav­ing the EU with­out a deal.

It was sup­ported by 303 votes to 296 – a ma­jor­ity of seven – de­spite three Labour MPS re­belling to op­pose it.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn turned and ap­plauded Ms Cooper, also giv­ing a thumbs up.

In a state­ment out­side the Com­mons, he said the vote in sup­port of the amend­ment was “an im­por­tant step to pre­vent a no-deal Brexit”.

Tory rebels in­cluded for­mer min­is­ters Sir Michael Fal­lon, Anna Soubry and George Free­man.

Dur­ing de­bate on the Bill, Con­ser­va­tive for­mer cab­i­net min­is­ter Nicky Morgan urged MPS to rule out the “most dam­ag­ing op­tion” that could hap­pen on 29 March.

She said: “No-deal is a ter­ri­ble deal and it would be a gross dere­lic­tion of the re­spon­si­bil­ity of mem­bers of this House to in­flict a no-deal sit­u­a­tion on our con­stituents.”

Con­ser­va­tive for­mer min­is­ter Sir Oliver Letwin said he was sup­port­ing the amend­ment be­cause he wanted to show the Gov­ern­ment that MPS will not al­low a no-deal Brexit.

He said pass­ing the amend­ment would show there was a ma­jor­ity against that out­come and there would con­tinue to be a ma­jor­ity against it, say­ing they would “bring for­ward sim­i­lar amend­ments” to frus­trate other leg­is­la­tion in this area.

Sir Oliver said: “I want to make it abun­dantly clear to my hon­ourable friends who are vot­ing against the Prime Min­is­ter’s deal, which I shall be sup­port­ing, that the ma­jor­ity in this House will sus­tain it­self and we will not al­low a no-deal exit to oc­cur on the 29th of March.”

Ad­ding that vot­ing against the Gov­ern­ment was “very much against my will”, Sir Oliver said: “I will con­tinue to do so right up to the end of March, in the hope that we can put pay to this dis­as­trous pro­posal.” Ms Cooper also told the Com­mons: “This is too se­ri­ous for us to play a mas­sive game of Brexit chicken. The coun­try can­not af­ford to wait to see who blinks first.”

She ad­vised min­is­ters to se­cure ap­proval for a Brexit deal or get “ex­plicit” agree­ment for no-deal be­fore 29 March, ad­ding “or if that fails, com­mit to seek­ing an ex­ten­sion to Ar­ti­cle 50 so there is time to sort things out”.

0 Clock­wise from above: Po­lice out in strength out­side par­lia­ment yes­ter­day; ri­val protesters face off; a pro-brexit cam­paign bus passes po­lice at West­min­ster; MP Anna Soubry ar­rives at the Com­mons the day af­ter suf­fer­ing ver­bal abuse

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