‘Cowardly and vile’ abuse of May condemned by all sides

Daily news Westminster

Politicians from all parties have united to condemn anonymous abuse directed at Prime Minister Theresa May by her own MPs.

The comments emerged over the weekend in a Sunday Times article when an unnamed backbench Tory claimed her leadership was nearing the end.

In the article, the MP was quoted as saying: “The moment is coming when the knife gets heated, stuck in her front and twisted. She’ll be dead soon.”

Mrs May was advised by another anonymous Tory to “bring her own noose” to a meeting scheduled for this week over the terms of the UK departure from the EU.

But the remarks were swiftly condemned by politicians from across the political divide, with many describing them as “vile” and “cowardly.”

Tory MP Heidi Allen tweeted in support of Mrs May and said that whoever was responsible for the comments should be “thrown out of the party.”

Conservative MP Paul Masterton and his colleague Sarah Wollaston said those responsible were “cowards”.

Mrs Wollaston also referenced the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in her West Yorkshire constituency in 2016 by right-wing extremist Thomas Mair.

Labour’s Yvette Cooper said the guilty party should be named and shamed for using such “vile and dehumanising” language.

Ms Cooper, chairwoman of the Commons Home Affairs committee, added: “Nobody should be subject to that kind of violent language.”

She added that it was “normalising violence” in public debate when a number of female MPs have received rape and death threats.

Condemnation also came from SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, and Tory Nicky Morgan, the former Treasury Secretary.

But Tory MP Mark Francois drew fresh criticism when he refused to condemn the remarks outright during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

The Brexit supporting MP for Rayleigh and Wickford admitted it was “unacceptable” but then appeared to blame Downing Street for their “bunker mentality” over Brexit.

He added: “The problem is that there is a lot of frustration on the back benches at the moment, both among Leavers and Remainers, at the general state of play.

“When you try to convey that to No 10, no-one is listening,” he added.

Mr Francois was criticised afterwards by Tory colleagues including Remain supporter Anna Soubry and fellow Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen.

Mr Bridgen, one of Mrs May’s most outspoken critics, told Good Morning Britain: “That is unhelpful. It won’t persuade colleagues to back a change of leadership.”

A spokesman for Theresa May said: “The prime minister has always been clear that we must set a tone in public discourse that is neither dehumanising nor derogatory.

Mrs May is still battling to conclude a withdrawal deal with the EU in the face of opposition within her own party and deadlock over the Irish border backstop.

The Prime Minister says the deal is “95 per cent complete” with only the backstop issue to resolve.

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