Tobias Ellwood says MPs are not fair game after protest at home

A Conservative MP has said politicians cannot be viewed as “fair game” after a large-scale pro-Palestinian protest at his family home. Tobias Ellwood told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme the “bar of acceptable treatment” of MPs was falling.

More than 60 people, some holding Palestinian flags, gathered at his home on Monday to call for a Gaza ceasefire. Mr Ellwood and his family were not at their Dorset home at the time after police had warned them to “stay away”.

Speaking to Evan Davis, Mr Ellwood said: “We were heading that way, we were advised not to go to the property.. arriving through that crowd would’ve antagonised the situation.” nThe Bournemouth East MP praised the police who he said arrived “very, very quickly”.

“Having picked up that intelligence, they blocked my driveway, they protected my property with their vehicles, and an armed response unit was positioned around the corner,” he added. Dorset Police said officers were deployed to Mr Ellwood’s home but no arrests were made and the protesters left by 20:50 GMT.

Organisers of the protest said it was “entirely legal” and in response to the Israeli bombing of Rafah in southern Gaza, which was “the place of shelter for more than 1.6 million refugees”.

They said they wanted Mr Ellwood to call for “an immediate and unconditional ceasefire” in Gaza.When asked about the difference between legitimate protest and intimidation, Mr Ellwood said: “All MPs expect criticism from time to time, it comes with the territory, but the bar of acceptable treatment is falling.

“Advertising the private address, to mobilise an aggressive, intimidating rally at an MP’s residential property, impacting not just on the family but also neighbours as well, for me is a step too far. This cannot be normalised in anyway… democracy clearly is not in a good place if this becomes the norm.”

When it was put to Mr Ellwood that he “was not someone who seems to have taken a stridently pro-Israel position”, the MP said it was a sign of the protesters’ “ignorance”

He said he believes “political curiosity should be encouraged”, but insisted “MPs cannot be fair game, to be attacked in this way”.

“We are losing the art of how to disagree as politics becomes evermore angry and hateful,” he added.

But Mr Ellwood reiterated that he “will not be deterred by this attempt to intimidate me”, saying it “motivates him further” to stand up for what he believes in.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appeared to reference the protest when he wrote on X: “Democracy is built on free debate – but increasingly MPs have been targeted by aggressive mobs for exercising those freedoms. We will never let those who intimidate prevail.

“It’s paramount MPs’ security is protected, and our democratic values upheld. Nothing is more important.” Israel declared war on Hamas after the group led an attack on communities inside Israel, killing around 1,200 people.

Since then, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, more than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed and 68,000 injured as Israel launched missiles and ground operations into the Gaza Strip in response.

Source: BBC

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