The sister of murdered MP Jo Cox has warned politicians their words “have consequences” after a mob shouting Jimmy Savile slurs attacked Sir Keir Starmer.
Labour MP Kim Leadbeater, who won her sister’s Batley and Spen seat last year, said she was “incredibly angry and upset” over the attack.
Boris Johnson is now facing fresh calls from Tory MPs to say sorry, after the protesters were heard shouting about sex offender Savile.
It comes after the prime minister made a baseless claim in the Commons that Starmer “spent most of his time prosecuting journalists and failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile”.
After seeing the footage of demonstrators surrounding Starmer and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy near Parliament on Monday, Leadbeater tweeted: “I’m incredibly angry and upset by the scenes we saw yesterday.
“I keep thinking about Keir and David’s families and friends. But these things don’t just happen.
“Words have consequences, leaders have a duty to behave responsibly and politics is not a game. Our country deserves far better.”
Leadbeater’s sister was shot and stabbed by a neo-Nazi outside her constituency surgery a week before the EU referendum in 2016.
Cox’s widower Brendan said the mobbing of Starmer could have been an “unintended consequence” of the prime minister’s choice to “inject poison into politics”.
“If it was a one-off, I think we could be more sanguine about it,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“But I think what we’ve seen over the last few years really has been an increase in that level of intimidation online, absolutely, but also face to face.
“I think that it’s very hard to draw a direct link and to say that in some ways, the prime minister is directly responsible for what happened.
“I think the people that are directly responsible for what happened yesterday were the people that did it.
“However, it’s also true that if you inject poison into politics, that has a whole set of unintended consequences that people will react to in different ways and at times that can lead over into intimidation, it can lead over to violence, it can lead over into extremism.”
Technology minister Chris Philp said the harassment and intimidation of Starmer was “totally unacceptable” but he insisted that people were wrong to “point to what the prime minister said as the cause of that”.
Meanwhile, Downing Street sources this morning made it clear that Johnson has no intention of saying sorry.
Johnson tweeted: “The behaviour directed at the Leader of the Opposition tonight is absolutely disgraceful. All forms of harassment of our elected representatives are completely unacceptable. I thank the police for responding swiftly.”