Brexit "Huge Driver" As Abuse And Threats To MPs Increase

9 May 2019, 09:07

Police officers guard Parliament.
Police officers guard Parliament. Picture: PA

The head of the Met Police has said threats to MPs are at "unprecedented" levels with a "considerable rise," in the last year.

Appearing before the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Commissioner Cressida Dick said the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox had contributed to an "extraordinary set of circumstances" with increasing levels of abuse not seen before.

Alongside the Commissioner, the head of UK counterterrorism policing, Neil Basu, acknowledged that the anger provoked by Brexit was a “huge driver” behind the increase.

Women and ethnic minorities are particular targets for harassment and abuse, while a group of just 10 MPs bore the brunt of almost one in three offences.

In the whole of 2018, there were 342 offences reported to police in England and Wales by MPs, and the previous year 151.

The first four months of 2019 saw the number of MP receiving threats and abuse reached a staggering 152.

This was a rise of 90% compared to the same months last year.

Labour MP Harriet Harman said she felt uncomfortable when she saw footage of Anna Soubry being abused over Brexit.

Mrs Harman asked the Commissioner what she thought when she saw her “police officers standing by and not intervening”.

She asked Dick: “What did you think when you saw that footage? ‘Oh, that’s good. He’s getting his chance to protest?’”

The Commissioner said the Met's presence outside Parliament had been "stepped up," but acknowledge that officers had been "too passive" when dealing with demonstrators outside Parliament.

The Committee also revealed that some MPs were forced to take taxis, at public expense, just to cross Westminster Bridge due to the level of protest.