Some protests targeting MPs over their stance on the war in Gaza have “crossed the line from protest to intimidation”, the shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, has said.
Other MPs already voiced concern about their safety and that of staff ahead of a weekend on which more than 100 pro-Palestine events were planned across the UK as campaigners sought to put pressure on parliamentarians who failed to vote for a Scottish National party motion last week calling for a ceasefire.
Hundreds of people marched through Keir Starmer’s constituency and protested outside his Camden office on Saturday over the Labour leader’s failure to call for a ceasefire, while others turned up outside the home of at least one MP on Saturday.
Asked on Sky News’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips programme about protests outside MPs’ offices, Reeves said: “I believe in the right to protest, I don’t believe in the right to intimidate. Some of those protests, I believe, over the last few days have crossed the line from protest to intimidation. Protesting outside people’s homes, putting pressure on them in that way, I think it’s totally unacceptable.”
She condemned protests outside MPs’ homes as “totally unacceptable” and urged those calling for a ceasefire to do so “in a responsible way”.
A Metropolitan police spokesperson said on Sunday the force was aware that some MPs had heightened concerns about their safety and security.
“We are clear that where any protest activity causes unreasonable disruption, turns into criminal or disorderly behaviour, or behaviour that causes fear and intimidation, then officers will intervene and take positive action – including making arrests,” they added.
Several MPs have contacted police for help in bolstering security, while the chair of the Women’s Parliamentary Labour party (WPLP), Siobhain McDonagh, said she had called a meeting for Tuesday to assess the extent of the threat and offer reassurance where possible.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has said MPs should expect to be held to account for their statements or votes on matters of deep concern to their constituents. “Peaceful protest outside constituency offices is a legitimate part of the democratic process,” said a spokesperson.
The protests follow the vote on Wednesday night in which 56 Labour MPs, including 10 frontbenchers, defied party instructions to vote for a ceasefire. Starmer has argued that calling for a ceasefire would not help as Hamas has said it intends to continue attacking Israel.
Three Muslim shadow ministers who remained loyal to the party have been the focus of much of the agitation, including Rushanara Ali, the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, whose office was picketed throughout Thursday.