POLICE in London have been told to step up their operation around Parliament in the run up to next week’s Brexit vote, after MPs complained of intimidation and harassment from far right thugs.

There were ugly scenes in Westminster on Monday, with Remain backing Tory MP Anna Soubry being shouted at and abused as she walked to her office.

The person leading the charge against the politician was identified as James Goddard, a supporter of EDL founder Tommy Robinson. Yesterday social media giant Facebook shut down his account on the site, saying it had violated its policies on hate speech.

There was support for Soubry from across the political spectrum, but Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay was criticised after he suggested the attack on his Tory colleague was a reason not to have a second referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today about the prospect of a new vote he said: “That would be hugely damaging to democracy, to our politics.

“We saw in the appalling scenes outside Parliament in the way that my colleague Anna Soubry was disgracefully treated yesterday how divisive this process has been.”

Labour’s Chuka Umunna branded it “disgraceful”, adding: “The notion we should be intimidated into NOT holding democratic votes is deplorable.”

In the Commons, Speaker John Bercow said he had written to Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police about the “deteriorating public order and security situation” outside Parliament.

He told MPs that the intimidation faced by MPs was “a type of fascism”.

“Let’s be quite clear about that, it’s a type of fascism.

“Women and ethnic minority citizens in particular are being targeted.

“I don’t say that they’re the only people on the receiving end of this completely unacceptable behaviour but they have been and are being deliberately and disproportionately targeted.

“That is not acceptable and we have to ensure that something is done about it.”

Speaking outside Scotland Yard, just yards away from the protests, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said that officers would be expected to intervene if protesters tried to stop MPs going about their daily routines.

“We’ve given a very clear direction to our officers on the ground that if they witness criminal behaviour then there is an expectation that an arrest will be made.”

Nick Lowles, the CEO of Hope Not Hate, said he was worried by the behaviour of some of the protesters outside Parliament: “Two years after Jo Cox was murdered by a neo-Nazi using the term ‘traitor’, and after Hope Not Hate revealed a plot by another neo-Nazi to kill a Labour MP last year,

police must act now to ensure that the targets of these protests are kept safe.”