Anger against MP over Brexit not a Surprise
The anger directed against MPs over Brexit is “not surprising”, the PM’s adviser, Dominic Cummings, has said.
The former Vote Leave campaign director said the only way the issue of abuse would be solved is if MPs “respect” the result of the EU referendum.
Mr Cummings’s remarks came after Boris Johnson defended a language he used in Parliament amid criticism from MPs
The parliamentary tensions have led 120 archbishops and bishops to warn against “further entrenching our divisions”.
The intervention followed an ill-tempered debate on Wednesday, as MPs returned to Parliament after the Supreme Court ruled the suspension of Parliament was unlawful.
The prime minister was criticised by a number of MPs among other remarks describing one Labour MP’s safety concerns as “humbug” and repeatedly referring to legislation aimed at blocking no-deal as “the surrender bill”.
On Thursday, the Commons heard of threats faced by politicians, with independent MP Caroline Nokes describing how someone had called her a “traitor who deserved to be shot” on a walkabout in her constituency.
Speaking at a book launch that evening, Mr Cummings said MPs had spent three years “swerving all over the shop” following the referendum and it was “not surprising some people are angry about it”.
He said both Leave and Remain campaigners had received “serious threats” of violence, which he said should be taken seriously.
But he added: “If you are a bunch of politicians and say that we swear we are going to respect the result of a democratic vote, and then after you lose you say, ‘We don’t want to respect that vote’, what do you expect to happen?”
“In the end, the situation can only be resolved by Parliament honouring its promise to respect the result,” he said, echoing sentiments expressed by the prime minister in the Commons on Wednesday.
But former Justice Secretary David Gauke today said “Some of the language from the prime minister this week has clearly made it harder to win support from Labour MPs for any kind of a deal.”
Mr Cummings denied that Downing Street was under pressure following the Supreme Court ruling, a series of parliamentary defeats and the backlash against Mr Johnson’s comments.
“This is a walk in the park compared to the referendum. We are enjoying this. We are going to leave and we are going to win,” he said.
But, when questioned as he left his home in London on Friday morning, Mr Cummings said: “Who said it would be a walk in the park?”
Told that he had made the remark, he replied: “No.”
Questioned on the government’s position, International Development Secretary Alok Sharma told Today: “I’m not going to set out discussions that have occurred in the privacy of cabinet.”
He added that the government would “absolutely” comply with the law.
Meanwhile, the College of Bishops called on politicians to “speak to others with respect”, adding that the result of the EU referendum “should be honoured”.
“It is easy to descend into division and abuse – climbing out and finding unity again takes far longer,” the college said in a statement.
“Further entrenching our divisions, whether from uncertainty or from partisanship, is not worthy of our country nor the leadership we now need.”
Mr Johnson acknowledged that “tempers need to come down” in Parliament.
But defending his use of the word “surrender”, the prime minister added: “I do think in the House of Commons it is important I should be able to talk about the surrender bill, the surrender act, in the way that I did.”