by LAUREN CODLING
ASIANS MPs has condemned abuse which some politicians have endured over Brexit as it was revealed that MPs have been advised to travel in groups in order to avoid harassment.
As British parliament continues to debate on the final Brexit outcome, many UK politicians have reported experiences of abuse and harassment from members of the public.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, deputy speaker of the House of Commons, reportedly emailed colleagues last week to warn them to take precautions.
“Personally, I have never felt this level of tension during my time in the house and I am aware that other colleagues feel the same,” Hoyle wrote in the email. “Many colleagues have already been subject to widely publicised abuse and intimidation.”
Politicians were then urged to take “small steps” to ensure their safety, including taking
taxis home from parliament and not travelling alone.
Hoyle added that most MPs had already taken security measures at home such as installing panic buttons.
Concerns about potential attacks on politicians have been heightened since the murder of Jo Cox, a Labour MP who was killed in her constituency by a far-right extremist during the Brexit referendum campaign in 2016.
Anna Soubry, an anti-Brexit Independent Group MP, has spoken out about the “serious” threats she has received.
Speaking to LBC last Saturday (23), Soubry said she had been cautioned not to return
home due to the threats she had received.
“We got a really serious death threat sent to our home,” she said. “My partner got a card and it was one of those ‘in deepest sympathy, rest in peace’ cards.
“It said, ‘we’re coming for you’, which was presumably to him, ‘we know where you live and we’re on your doorstep’.”
Labour MP Rupa Huq revealed she had received a racist email this month which abused her for her stance on Brexit, while Suella Braverman, a British Asian pro-Brexit MP, also admitted her ethnicity had been used against her in online comments.
Labour MP Preet Kaur Gill told Eastern Eye the advice by Hoyle was “timely and welcome”, although it was sad that it needed to be said.
“I know that I am not alone in receiving threatening messages on social media, telling
me that I am a traitor because of the way I have voted,” she said on Monday (25).
“It’s time the media accepts its fair share of responsibility in the debate as well, with incorrect information being shared with the public, contributing to the erosion of trust
between the public and their MPs.”
Gill also criticised prime minister Theresa May for a speech she made last week, in which she appeared to blame MPs for failing to make a choice on Brexit.
Describing the speech as “ill-conceived (and) incendiary”, Gill said May should be trying
to unite the country instead of dividing it.
“The risk to female MPs remains high as we approach three years since the tragic murder of Jo Cox, and we should never become complacent,” the Birmingham Edgbaston MP said.
Faisal Rashid, Labour MP for Warrington South, shared similar sentiments and agreed elected politicians should not have to tolerate harassment and abuse.
“Elected politicians should always expect to be held to account in robust and often impassioned public debate,” Rashid told Eastern Eye. “But they should never live in fear of abuse and violence.”
Admitting he was aware that many of his colleagues had been subjected to abuse and
intimidation in the past few weeks, Rashid raised concerns of the “simple steps” to guarantee safety.
“These are not the symptoms of a healthy political atmosphere,” he said. “Despite our
political differences, in the coming weeks we must be united in our rejection of the politics of fear and intimidation”.
Disagreement and debate are an integral part of a healthy democracy, Rashid said, abuse is not.
“It has no place in our political system and no place in our society,” he said.