Conservative MP Anna Soubry, a passionate opponent of Brexit, was forced to stop midway through a TV interview on Monday as a crowd of pro-Brexit supporters jeered “Soubry is a Nazi”.
Soubry was appearing live on the BBC News Channel, speaking to host Simon McCoy when the football terrace–style chant began.
As it grew in volume, Soubry stopped halfway through a sentence and said: “I do object to being called a Nazi, actually. I just think this astonishing, this is what has happened to our country. Anyway, let’s try and move on and be positive about things.”
Soubry, who has been publicly harangued by pro-Brexit protesters before, called on the police to “do their job” after the incident.
BuzzFeed News reported in December that broadcasters have hired private security firms for their broadcasts outside parliament, such is the threat from protesters.
Some of the protesters were wearing yellow vests, a symbol of anti-establishment protests in France that has since been adopted by nationalist, right-wing groups in Britain.
And according to this footage, after the interview the same protesters then followed Soubry, continuing to harass and abuse her as she made her way back to parliament.
Also on Monday, the pro-Corbyn columnist and activist Owen Jones was, not for the first time, accosted by what he described as Tommy Robinson supporters as he made his way through Westminster.
Labour MP Stephen Doughty brought up the Soubry incident in the House of Commons during a debate on Brexit.
“Mr Speaker, before I ask my question, can I draw your attention to some further serious events going on outside parliament today,” he said. “Intimidation, threats, potentially unlawful actions, targeting members of this house, members of the press, members of the public, and peaceful activists.
“Can I urge you to use your offices with the Metropolitan police at the highest level to ensure this is dealt with, it’s been repeatedly raised.”
Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay said he hadn’t seen the incident, but said that all MPs were aware of the fate of Jo Cox, the Labour MP who was murdered by a far-right terrorist in 2016.
“Anyone who stands at this despatch box is always mindful of the plaque of Jo Cox, which I know is so dear to many, particularly on the benches opposite, but across the house, and I think all of us would unite that wherever people are on the Brexit debate, is that all of us in this house should be able to air their views with respect.”
Commons speaker John Bercow later responded in the house: “I have been made aware of recent incidents involving aggressive and threatening behaviour towards members and others by assorted protesters who have donned the yellow vests used in France.”
“I am concerned at this stage, I say no more than that I am concerned at this stage, about what seems to be a pattern of protest targeted in particular — I don't say exclusively — but in particular at women.
“Female members, and in a number of cases I am advised female journalists, have been subjected to aggressive protest, and what many would regard as harassment. I can assure the house that I am keeping a close eye on events, and I will speak to those who advise me about these matters.”
As Stewart McDonald, SNP MP for Glasgow South, noted, this is all on the first day of the 2019 parliamentary session.
Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Patrick Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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