In Depth

‘Remember Jo Cox’: arrests over threat to Anna Soubry

A man and a woman have been bailed after allegedly tweeting threats to five Remainer MPs

Two people have been arrested in connection with a series of malicious tweets sent to five MPs, including a reference to the murder of Jo Cox.

One tweet branded Anna Soubry a “traitor” and said “Remember what happened to Jo Cox so be careful”. The messages were sent to five Remainer MPs: Soubry, Chuka Umunna, David Lammy, Angela Smith and Sarah Wollaston.

Another tweet from the pair, who are believed to run a Twitter account named Sheffield and Yorkshire Direct Action Brexit Group, came with the message: “We are ready for civil war...are you?”.

Cox was killed, aged 41, by right-wing extremist Thomas Mair, in Birstall, West Yorkshire, part of her Batley and Spen constituency, in the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum.

South Yorkshire Police confirmed a man and a woman were arrested in Sheffield after the social media posts were reported to police earlier this week.

A police spokesperson said: “A 40-year-old-man and a 33-year-old woman were arrested in Sheffield on suspicion of sending malicious communications. Enquiries are ongoing.”

The pair have since been released on bail.

MPs have “demanded that social media firms like Twitter and Facebook take tougher action on taking down hateful tweets”, says The Sun.

The social microblogging service said it has a “zero tolerance policy against violent threats” and warned that anyone who does faces the “immediate and permanent suspension of their account”.

The arrests came as Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater told BBC Radio Scotland that an initial period after the MP’s death where politicians focused on coming together was short-lived.

Leadbeater said: “I think it's safe to say things are pretty bad.

“There was a very short period of time after Jo was murdered where politicians said all the right things around coming together and doing politics in a different way and using Jo’s words of ‘more in common’ to focus on the things we agree on rather than the things we disagree on.”

“But unfortunately that didn’t last long and I think now we’re in a place where things are worse than ever in terms of division,” she added.

The online abuse is not the first time Anna Soubry has been targeted. In January, the then-Tory MP was verbally abused during live television interviews and in June 2017, a man who tweeted asking for someone to “Jo Cox” her was given a suspended jail sentence.

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