Commons Speaker John Bercow has branded far-right activist Tommy Robinson “a loathsome, obnoxious, repellant individual” after MPs called for him to be banned from Parliament.
Speaking after it came to light that UKIP leaders had treated Robinson to a lavish lunch in the House of Lords shortly after he was released on bail on Tuesday, SNP MP Stewart McDonald said it “crosses a line” to invite the former English Defence League leader onto the parliamentary estate.
“Mr Speaker, I understand that sometimes we have to engage in views that one might not agree with,” McDonald told the House of Commons on Wednesday.
“But surely the fact that a man that is as guilty as he is of stirring up racial hatred, organising violent, thuggish crimes around the country, setting up the EDL and everything that comes with, crosses a line?”
The Glasgow South MP added that such a person “shouldn’t be invited to walk amongst us on the parliamentary estate”.
Replying to the question, Bercow echoed McDonald’s cutting assessment of Robinson – but that he was powerless to control who is invited to dine in the House of Lords, calling on the SNP MP to write to the Lord Speaker.
“I share this assessment of the individual concerned – a loathsome, obnoxious, repellant individual,” Bercow told MPs. “I make no bones about my view being the same as his [McDonald’s] on that front.”
Bercow’s attack on Robinson comes the day after the EDL founder was released on bail when a judge retrying him for contempt of court referred the case back to the Attorney General, the government’s top legal adviser.
Robinson had been accused of committing contempt by filming people before a criminal trial.
According to reports, shortly after addressing “jubilant” crowds of supporters outside the Old Bailey, Robinson enjoyed a luxurious lunch in the House of Lords with UKIP leader Gerard Batten and UKIP peer Lord Pearson.
However, MEP Batten took to Twitter on Wednesday to deny claims that red wine was served at the lunch, telling followers that “the booze flowed at the Red Lion in Whitehall after lunch”.