British MPs condemn 'vitriolic' Brexit attacks on PM Theresa May
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By Aditi Khanna
London, Oct 22 (PTI) Britain's politicians from across party lines on Monday condemned the increasingly "vitriolic" attacks on Prime Minister Theresa May over her Brexit strategy.
Many MPs expressed their anger over the very personal nature of the abuse by Brexiteers unhappy with the ongoing negotiations with the European Union (EU) within her own Conservative Party.
Over the weekend, a number of unnamed MPs were quoted in the media as saying that the British PM was set to be "knifed" over her failure to clinch a Brexit deal and would be "entering the killing zone" this week.
"This morning I've seen quotes from Tories to the effect that PM is 'entering the killing zone', faces 'assassination' and should take 'her own noose' to a meeting. Few disagree with her more than I do, but language like this debases politics. Get a grip, Tories," tweeted Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister.
Opposition Labour MP Yvette Cooper, chair of the influential Commons Home Affairs Committee, said the unnamed Tory backbencher who made such comments should be publicly named to stop them from doing it again.
"This is vile and dehumanising language towards a woman MP, towards a prime minister who, no matter how much you might disagree with her, is someone who is doing a job in public life," she said.
"Nobody should be subject to that kind of violent language, which I think is normalising violence in public debate at a time when we lost Jo Cox," she added in reference to the killing of Labour MP Cox by a constituent in June 2016.
From within May's own party, Conservative MP Heidi Allen said that whoever used such harsh language should be "thrown out the party", with many others saying that it was not reflective of healthy politics.
"I don't intend to dignify those specific anonymous comments with a response," a Downing Street spokesperson said.
"The prime minister has always been very clear that we must set a tone in public discourse that is neither dehumanising nor derogatory. Personal vitriol has no place in our politics," the spokesperson said.
The attacks came as May addressed the House of Commons on Monday to update Parliament on the recent European Council meeting in Brussels, which had failed to break an impasse between the two sides over a so-called divorce deal.
She sought to stress on "significant progress" that had been made and claimed that the UK's withdrawal agreement with the EU was 95 per cent complete.
"There is agreement on 95 per cent of the deal with one real sticking point left, and a considerable one, which is how to guarantee no return to a hard border in Ireland," she said.
It has already been agreed the UK will maintain the status quo of the EU membership between the date of Brexit on 29 March next year and 31 December 2020 as part of a transition phase.
However, in an attempt to try and navigate the complex issue of keeping an open border on the island of Ireland, after UK territory Northern Ireland has officially left the EU, recently opened the possibility of the transition period being extended beyond the agreed 21-month mark.
This has been seen as further concession by the hard Brexiteers within the ruling Conservative party and added to the constantly building pressure on Theresa May's leadership.
In her statement on Monday May said that both an extension and a so-called "backstop", which would see Northern Ireland remain within the EU Customs Union while the rest of the UK was not, are "undesirable".
She said that while the best outcome would be that a future arrangement is in place by December 2020, an extension to the transition phase may be necessary only as an insurance policy. PTI AK MRJ MRJ
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