Abusing MPs over Brexit is 'cowardly', says Archbishop of Canterbury

Andrea Leadsom being escorted by police after a Brexit debate in the House of Commons(Photo: BBC News)

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, has called for an end to the abuse of MPs in the face of deep divisions over Brexit. 

He defended the right of people to protest but said that demonstrators who threatened MPs were undermining their cause. 

"The freedom to demonstrate is the mark of a good society. But threatening and abusing MPs on either side of the arguments is cowardly, and betrays the causes that demonstrators support," he said.

He added: "We must learn to disagree well." 

Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg were targeted by anti-Brexit protesters over the weekend following the first Saturday sitting in the House of Commons in 37 years to debate Boris Johnson's Brexit deal. 

All three were given a police escort as they left the Commons after Saturday's debate. 

In footage shared on social media, shouts of "shame on you" could be heard as Mrs Leadsom, the business secretary, made her way past the crowds. 

Mrs Leadsom said that the abuse was "so frightening". 

"Thank goodness for our superb police," she tweeted later.

"Just walked home safely from HoC with their protection — why do the so called 'People's Vote' protesters think it's OK to abuse, intimidate and scream in the face of someone they don't agree with?

"So frightening, and so grateful to the police."

Labour MPs who support Johnson's deal have revealed that they too have been subjected to abuse. 

Caroline Flint wrote in The Sunday Times: "In a week when we called for an end to intimidation and abuse, I am denounced as a Tory by social media trolls.

"Well, I wasn't elected to parliament to bow to threats and intimidation. I won't now."

Labour MP John Mann said he had received some of the "worst abuse ever" as a result of the row over Brexit and had been told that he "must have sex abuse scandals to hide". 

Another person hoped he would "get a horrible debilitating illness", he claimed.