British MP taunted as ‘Nazi’ by pro-Brexit demonstrators

Lawmakers express concerns about protesters with ‘strong far-right and extreme-right connections’ after pro-Europe politician Anna Soubry faces abuse during TV interview

British MP Anna Soubry targeted by protesters in Westminster, London, January 8, 2019 (Screen grab via Twitter)
British MP Anna Soubry targeted by protesters in Westminster, London, January 8, 2019 (Screen grab via Twitter)

Dozens of politicians expressed concerns about safety after Conservative MP Anna Soubry on Monday faced chants of “Soubry is a Nazi” from pro-Brexit protesters during an interview with the BBC outside Parliament.

Sky News anchor Kay Burley posted a video on Twitter in which loud chants can be heard while she also interviewed Soubry on Monday.

Burley wrote in a later tweet that she now requires a security escort to work, before listing some of the abusive comments she receives. Earlier in the day political commentator Owen Jones was also targeted for abuse in Westminster.

At least 55 politicians expressed their concerns to Metropolitan police commissioner Cressida Dick, the Guardian reported.

“After months of peaceful and calm protests by groups representing a range of political views on Brexit, an ugly element of individuals with strong far-right and extreme-right connections, which your officers are well aware of, have increasingly engaged in intimidatory and potentially criminal acts targeting members of parliament, journalists, activists and members of the public,” read the letter.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said he was worried about female politicians and journalists being targeted for abuse.

“I am concerned at this stage about what seem to be a pattern of protest targeted in particular –- I don’t say exclusively –- at women,” Bercow said.

Labour MP Mary Creagh told the House of Commons that the “really vile, misogynistic thuggery” was not an isolated incident, the BBC reported.

Creagh added that there was a “strong streak of misogyny” in the abuse, which has increased amid tensions over Brexit.

“We in this place remember our friend Jo Cox, who was murdered by a far-right neo-Nazi,” Creagh said.

Cox, a vocal supporter of the EU, was shot and stabbed in broad daylight outside of a library a week ahead of the Brexit vote in 2016. Her killer, Thomas Mair, gave his name at his first court hearing as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” Prosecutors said his home was full of Nazi literature and memorabilia.

Parliament is expected to resume its debate over the government’s planned withdrawal deal Wednesday, with a vote widely expected a week later.

There are no indications that lobbying over the Christmas and New Year holiday period has garnered Prime Minister Theresa May more support for her plan.

The withdrawal agreement, which is required before more wide-ranging discussions on future relations can commence, foresees relatively close economic ties with Europe, particularly in the immediate aftermath of Brexit, in order to avoid the imposition of a hard border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK.

As well as frustrating a number of lawmakers who want a complete break from the EU, the plan also raises the prospect that the UK could be “trapped” in a customs arrangement if no agreement on future trade ties is reached. There are also a number of lawmakers who have said they will vote against the deal because they want another referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.

A vote that had been scheduled in December was delayed as May admitted it would face certain defeat.

May said Monday she is still trying to get more from EU leaders, who insist they are not willing to sweeten the deal. She told hospital workers in Liverpool there has been “some further movement” from the EU but did not provide specifics.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May leaves after a press conference following a special meeting of the European Council to endorse the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement and to approve the draft political declaration on future EU-UK relations on November 25, 2018 in Brussels. (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP)

“We are continuing to work on further assurances on further undertakings from the European Union in relation to the concern that has been expressed by parliamentarians,” she said.

She was castigated in Parliament by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said the prime minister is wasting precious time by pushing a deal that has no support.

The prospect of the bill’s possible defeat next week has renewed concern about a “no-deal” scenario. Fears about economic disruption Monday prompted roughly 200 legislators including some from the prime minister’s Conservative Party to write to May asking her to rule out the no-deal scenario.

May has not spelled out how she will respond if the withdrawal bill is voted down next week.

Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng said Monday that the government is still focused on winning the vote.

“A week is a very long time in politics. We don’t know what the numbers are,” he told BBC. “We have got a week. I think the situation — as it always does — has developed, it evolves. I am very hopeful that the deal will be voted through next week.”

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