Online troll targeted MP over Gaza and told him they would show his wife a ‘real man’ | Politics News

A former minister who was sacked for calling for a ceasefire in Gaza has said he was trolled online with comments including someone suggesting that they would show his wife “a real man”.

Paul Bristow, who was fired from his position as a parliamentary private secretary (PPS) in October, spoke about the abuse in the Commons last night as a debate on the Israel-Hamas war descended into chaos.

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The Tories ended up boycotting the proceedings after Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle accepted a Labour amendment to an SNP vote calling for an immediate ceasefire, as well as a government amendment.

An opposition party – in this case Labour – would not normally get to table an amendment to another opposition party’s motion so the move was perceived by some as helping Labour avoid a damaging rebellion, given many of its MPs were expected to back the SNP’s motion had their own party’s not been selected.

Sir Lindsay, who is facing calls to resign, said he took the decision to allow all sides to “express their views” and that he was “very, very concerned about the security of all members”.

It comes amid heightened concern around MPs’ safety, particularly since the war in Gaza broke out, with many politicians describing increasing levels of abuse and raising concerns about protesters targeting their homes.

Speaking in the Commons last night, Mr Bristow asked for guidance on how he can “make my views more known to my constituents” given he was not able to vote.

He said he had planned to rebel against his party, which is calling for humanitarian pauses, and back the SNP’s calls for an “immediate ceasefire” – but the government’s refusal to participate ultimately meant there was no vote on the SNP’s motion.

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‘Speaker’s position is difficult’

Mr Bristow said: “I was one of the first Members of Parliament to call for the release of hostages, combined with a permanent ceasefire. I lost my government job as a result.

“Because people misrepresented my position, someone suggested on social media that they would show my wife a real man.

“Someone else suggested that they would attack me and my family.

“Already today, Labour councillors in my patch are tweeting that I have not supported a ceasefire. I wanted to vote with the Scottish National party motion on a ceasefire. Can you advise me how I can make my constituents clear of my views, given that I was not able to vote?”

In response, the deputy speaker, Eleanor Laing, said: “I think the honorary gentleman has put his views on the record by what he just said.”

Former justice minister David Gauke, who is no longer an MP, said the comments “make it explicit” that MPs “want to be seen to take a particular line on Gaza because they want to reduce the physical danger to them and their family”.

In a post on X, he said it was “very worrying” and he also knows “lots of Labour MPs who are genuinely concerned for their safety”.

Read more: What happened in the Commons yesterday – and can the Speaker be sacked?

Despite apologising and accepting his mistakes, almost 60 MPs – mainly from the Tory and SNP parties – have signed a no-confidence motion in the Speaker.

While Sir Lindsay has the ultimate discretion over amendment procedures, he had been warned by the Commons clerk that his actions would be unprecedented.

Former defence minister Tobias Ellwood, who has spoken out about abuse towards MPs’ after pro-Palestine voters staged a protest outside his home, said he did not think concerns about MPs’ safety justified Sir Lindsay’s actions.

He told Sky News: “It’s an issue MPs on all sides are increasingly worried about but it’s totally wrong for the Speaker to start making judgements about parliamentary motions on this basis.”

Tory MP Geoffroy Cox also wasn’t buying the explanation from the Speaker, saying “it is an abject surrender to intolerance and tyranny; it meekly offers up the House of Commons as able to be influenced by external threats”.

However, Labour MPs have jumped to Sir Lindsay’s defence, saying he was “acting in good faith”.


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