Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. My apologies for not bringing this to your attention sooner, but it has only just been brought to my attention. Would it be in order for you to comment on the fact that my office has just reported to the police about five tweets, if not more, that have issued threats against me following the front-page article of today’s The Daily Telegraph? Would you make it very clear to everybody, in whatever capacity, that they have an absolute duty to report responsibly, to make sure that they use language that brings our country together, and to make sure that we have a democracy that welcomes free speech and an attitude of tolerance?
I welcome the opportunity to make that clear. First, may I say that I am extremely concerned to hear what the right hon. Lady has just told me? She should not be subject to threats, and neither should any other Member of this House—or, indeed, any person—for holding and expressing a political opinion. Thankfully, we do have a free press. They are imperfect and deeply flawed—like us all, although they do not always realise it; they realise everybody else’s flaws but very rarely their own—but nevertheless they are free, and that is a good thing. None of us would seek to deny the merit and, indeed, the indispensability in a free society of a free press.
Equally, Members of this House are free and duty-bound to do what they think is right. I hope the right hon. Lady will not take it amiss if I say that not only is any attempt to threaten or intimidate her or any colleague repugnant, but it is also doomed to fail. I know her and my colleagues well enough to know that even if there are people who think they can intimidate, or even if, hypothetically, there were someone in the media who thought that he or she could intimidate, that person would be grossly mistaken. Members will not be intimidated, and they never should be. I think that is the end of the subject.