Steel barriers put in at Parliament after abuse of MPs

MP Anna Soubry arrives at the Houses of Parliament in London. Police are to step up their operation around Parliament in the run up to next week's Brexit deal vote. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
MP Anna Soubry arrives at the Houses of Parliament in London. Police are to step up their operation around Parliament in the run up to next week's Brexit deal vote. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
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Police have agreed to increase security near Parliament amid concerns over threatening and abusive behaviour by protesters, MPs have heard.

John Bercow said the assurances were received following a meeting with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick.

Steel barriers were erected outside the Carriage Gates entrance to Parliament today.

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Scotland Yard said the force has increased its presence around the estate in the run-up to the vote on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal on Tuesday.

The Commons Speaker earlier this week urged police to tackle the “aggressive, threatening and intimidating behaviour” towards politicians and journalists, hitting out at the “toxic attacks” in a letter to Ms Dick.

His intervention came after several incidents, including one which saw Tory former minister Anna Soubry branded a Nazi by a mob during television interviews.

After Labour’s Rupa Huq (Ealing Central and Acton) raised concerns that a charity pancake race involving MPs and journalists would be cancelled, Mr Bercow told the Commons: “Clearly it is a magnificent cause and I’m very sorry to hear of the news of the postponement or cancellation and the rationale behind that decision.”

He said he and others hosted Ms Dick in Parliament on Thursday.

Mr Bercow went on: “In the course of that constructive engagement, the police communicated plans for increased security in the period ahead, which they trust, and we also very much hope, will enable members, journalists and members of the public to go about their business unimpeded by aggressive, threatening or intimidating demonstrators.”

The Speaker added on the pancake race: “That event is some distance in the future. The question of whether the event goes ahead is not a matter for the chair, but I very much hope as a result of the increased security that is now to be set in train, people organising events – either within the precincts of the Palace of Westminster or adjacent to it or in close proximity to it – will feel confident and comfortable that they can safely proceed with their plans.”

Scotland Yard said: “We have increased our police presence around the Parliamentary estate in the run-up to the vote next week but an appropriate policing plan has been in place regarding Brexit for some months.

“Our role is to facilitate peaceful protest and balance the needs and rights of all those present, including protesters, MPs and members of the public.

“We would urge protesters to respect others’ views and those going about their daily business.”