Police faced mounting criticism last night after they stood by when a pro-EU MP was verbally abused by protesters outside the Commons.
Anna Soubry, who supports a second Brexit referendum, was forced to stop talking during a BBC interview while people off camera shouted: ‘Soubry is a Nazi’.
The MP for Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire then made her way back to Parliament, pursued by a yellow vest wearing mob shouting ‘Anna, you’re a fascist’.
While protesters crowded around her, pointing and yelling in her face, Soubry pointed out the presence of two police officers across the road – who do nothing to help her.
Even as she reached the gates of parliament she is blocked from entering by the group, which included far-right activist James Goddard, as further officers stand mere yards away without intervening.
After the incident, which was criticised by both Remain and Leave MPs, Scotland Yard confirmed they were looking into it and deciding whether or not a crime had been committed.
Now at least 55 MPs have signed a letter to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick raising concerns about safety outside Parliament – just three years after Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in her constituency.
Anna Soubry was pursued by an aggressive mob, including far-right activist James Goddard (pictured next to Soubry) who shouted in her face and called her a ‘fascist’ as she made her way back to Parliament
The letter said: ‘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.
‘We understand there are ongoing investigations but there appears to be an ongoing lack of coordination in the response from the police and appropriate authorities including with Westminster borough policing, and despite clear assurances this would be dealt with following incidents before Christmas, there have been a number of further serious and well publicised incidents today.’
It added: ‘The ability to peacefully protest and express views outside Parliament is a cherished part of our democracy – and we want to retain the right for those who have conducted themselves within the law and a peaceful way to continue to do so.
‘It is however utterly unacceptable for Members of Parliament, journalists, activists and members of the public to be subject to abuse, intimidation and threatening behaviour and indeed potentially serious offences while they go about their work.
‘Many of these concerns have been repeatedly raised both with officers on the ground, and at senior levels with over the past weeks since the situation worsened, as well as with the parliamentary authorities and ministers and so it is obviously concerning to have to write to you formally in this regard.’
Concerns over safety around Parliament come after Jo Cox was brutally murdered while on her way to meet constituents in Birstall, West Yorkshire.
The mother-of-two was shot and stabbed by a man with links to far-right political groups including the English Defence League and the National Front.
He targeted the Labour MP just a week before the EU referendum, and shouted ‘Britain first’ before launching his attack.
A mob of protesters were branded vile today after they interrupted a live TV interview to hurl Nazi chants at Tory MP Anna Soubry (pictured during the BBC interview today)
Many MPs took to Twitter to express their disgust at the incident, while others raised the issue in the Commons.
Last night, Miss Soubry tweeted: ‘I fail to see why journalists and technicians should be subjected to the same abuse and intimidation as the police stand by and do nothing.’ And she called for the protesters to be prosecuted under public order legislation.
Labour MP Mary Creagh said the ‘really vile, misogynistic thuggery’ shown was not an isolated incident, while her colleague Stephen Doughty called for ‘proper action’ to be taken by Scotland Yard.
Tory MP Nick Boles said on Twitter: ‘Far be it from me to tell the police their job but I thought that threatening violence was an arrestable offence under the Public Order Act 1986.’
Labour frontbencher Angela Rayner added: ‘What has our country come to when watching BBC News all you can hear is chants from protesters calling Anna Soubry a Nazi. How disgusting and offensive: they do their causes no good!’
After the issue was raised in the Commons, Speaker John Bercow said he was aware of incidents ‘involving aggressive and threatening behaviour towards members and others by assorted protesters’.
Mr Bercow said it was a matter for the Met Police rather than Parliamentary authorities as it happened in the street, but added: ‘Female members, and in a number of cases I’m advised, female journalists have been subjected to aggressive protest and what many would regard as harassment.
MPs across the political divide condemned the abuse and said there is no place for such intimidation
Tory MP and Theresa May’s former deputy Damian Green was among the MPs who condemned the abuse
Labour MP David Lammy said the abuse caught on camera is disgusting and accused those hurling it of being historically illiterate
‘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.’
During the BBC interview, Miss Soubry told journalist Simon McCoy: ‘I do object to being called a Nazi, actually. I just think this is astonishing, this is what has happened to our country. But let’s try and move on and be positive about things.’
Protesters also chanted slogans including ‘Liar, liar’ throughout a live interview by Miss Soubry on Sky News.
Yvette Cooper called out the ‘completely appalling abuse’ that Miss Soubry was subject to while Norman Smith questioned ‘Is this what its come to?’
Nicola Sturgeon agreed that it was appalling and insisted we need to make a stand against this type of behaviour
Andrew Adonis also wrote to Cressida Dick, reminding the commissioner that it is ‘less than three years since an MP was murdered in cold blood by a man spouting the very same rhetoric as the men who yesterday attacked Anna [Soubry], Owen [Jones], and Femi’
Seb Dance offered his solidarity with Anna Soubry and others while Piers Morgan stated that Britain was ‘better than this
Harriet Harman called the incident an ‘attack on democracy’ and Nic Dakin said that he does often disagree with Miss Soubry but finds the ‘thuggish behaviour’ shocking
Over the chants, she told journalist Kay Burley: ‘I don’t have a problem with people demonstrating and making their views heard.
‘I have a real problem with people who call me a traitor or ‘Soubry, you Nazi’. That is a criminal offence and I’m a criminal barrister.’
Theresa May’s spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister has been very clear that nobody involved in the political process should be subjected to abuse or harassment. They should be free to do their job without any form of intimidation and it is clearly unacceptable when that isn’t the case.’
Last night, a Met spokesman said: ‘Police received a third party report of a public order offence on Monday in the area of College Green, SW1. Officers are assessing if any crimes have been committed. There has been no arrest at this stage.’
Anna Soubry has needed a police escort after being heckled and harassed by a mob of protesters outside parliament last month (pictured)
Sky News presenter Miss Burley also revealed on Twitter that she needed security to escort her from her place of work.
She wrote: ‘These people are not pro-Brexit. They are pro-intimidation. They specifically target me and scream ‘slag’, or ‘f***ing fascist’ over and over and over again, and those are just some comments I can mention in polite company.’
A group of anti-EU protesters gathered on College Green in Westminster – where many of the press interviews around Brexit are held – have harassed journalists there before.
A few weeks ago Guardian columnist Owen Jones was heckled by protesters as he gave his views on politics and Brexit.
Eloise Todd, the head of Best for Britain – the anti Brexit campaign group – said: ‘It’s downright disgusting to see people baying at an MP like that and throwing around such offensive words simply because they disagree with her position on Brexit. It’s awful and it turns my stomach.
‘Britain is a place for vigorous and vibrant debate, but, it seems today it turned into pure hate for a few mindless thugs.
‘This kind of evil discourse belongs in the sewer and not a stones throw from Parliament.’
Who is Anna Soubry? British Conservative Party politician chased by pro-Brexit protesters
Miss Soubry is a British Conservative Party politician, former barrister and journalist who has been the MP for Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire since 2010.
Her roles in parliament have included being Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans.
She has also been Minister of State for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans and Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise.
Miss Soubry is a strong European Union Remainer and backed the campaign to stay in the EU during the referendum campaign.
Anna Soubry at a press conference in London discussing why they feel that Brexit plans should be put to a public vote (December 2918)
When the result of the referendum was announced she hit out at Boris Johnson, who spearheaded the Leave campaign, and accused him of backing the bid in order to become Prime Minister.
Shortly after on June 28 in 2016 she made an impromptu speech outside Parliament and told the crowds ‘we made a terrible, terrible mistake on Friday’, and urged fellow Remainers to keep fighting.
She went on to vote to implement Article 50, because she said she had promised her constituents that if they voted leave then she would adhere to her wishes.
The following September she slammed members of the Leave campaign after it was revealed that their promise of £350,000 of extra funding for the NHS.
Miss Soubry was one of 11 Tory rebels who voted for Parliament to be guaranteed a final say on the Brexit deal, which was later passed.
Following calls from Brexiteers for the Chancellor to be sacked after claiming Brexit would only cause slight change, Miss Soubry said that the 35 MPs concerned shouldn’t dictate the term of Brexit.
She went to on say that she intended to leave the party which she did not feel comfortable being apart of because it had been ‘taken over’ by Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson.
A year later she declared that she would resign the Conservative whip and vote to have no confidence in her government if ‘no deal’ became the policy of the government.
She is currently still a member of the party.