Priti Patel accused of undermining democracy with planned crackdown on protests


Priti Patel has been accused of launching an assault on Britain’s democratic traditions with a crackdown on protests that would make it a crime to cause “serious annoyance or inconvenience” by taking part in a demonstration.

Amid an atmosphere charged by the police use of force at a vigil for murder victim Sarah Everard on Saturday, the home secretary came under fire in the House of Commons over proposed legislation which Labour say would allow someone convicted of vandalising a statue to be sentenced to a longer jail term than a rapist.

Among MPs raising concerns was ex-prime minister and former home secretary Theresa May, who said that freedom of speech was “an important right in our democracy” and warned of “potential unintended consequences” from provisions in Ms Patel’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

As MPs began a two-day debate on the controversial legislation, hundreds of protesters thronged Parliament Square outside demanding freedom of speech and better protection for women.

The shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, told MPs that the scenes from Clapham Common should be a “red warning signal” of the dangers of draconian measures in the bill.


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