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‘The rhetoric is dangerous’: Female candidates face toxic politics in Britain

UK lawmaker Anna Soubry has faced numerous threats since quitting the Conservative Party over its Brexit stance.
UK lawmaker Anna Soubry has faced numerous threats since quitting the Conservative Party over its Brexit stance. France 24 screen grab

More than three years after the murder of MP Jo Cox by a far-right supporter, female candidates in Britain’s December 12 general election face an increasingly hostile climate – an alarming trend many blame on the poisonous divide generated by the Brexit referendum. FRANCE 24’s reporters spoke to two women MPs battling to hold on to their seats.

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Women currently account for only 20 percent of MPs from the ruling Conservative Party, and there are fears the number will further decrease following Thursday’s general election.

At the start of the campaign, former conservative lawmaker Heidi Allen announced she would not be standing in the election, citing the abuse and threats she had received since quitting the ruling party in February.

Like Allen, former Conservative minister Anna Soubry also left the party over its Brexit stance. She has since faced regular harassment by far-right protesters, who have branded her a traitor.

“It’s a new problem, it did not exist until this blasted referendum,” Soubry says of the 2016 Brexit vote. “Since then things have just got worse and worse,” adds the MP from Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire, who is now a member of The Independent Group.

“Some of my colleagues have stood down, but equally there were men who stood down, and I know that they stood down because of the threats that them and their families were receiving,” Soubry explains.

Click on the player above to watch the report by Hervé Amoric and Enda O’Looney.
 

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