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Intimidation of MPs must stop

PUBLIC and political discourse has become increasingly characterised by coarseness and confrontation, and all too often conducted in an abusive tone.

The rise of social media has been a key factor, but the Brexit referendum and its aftermath has undoubtedly accelerated this downward trajectory.

Worryingly, there are now real fears that rhetoric and social media posts are spilling into something nastier, as evidenced by the harassment and abuse suffered by Conservative MP Anna Soubry this week outside the Houses of Parliament.

The treatment meted out to Ms Soubry went well beyond robust debate when she was surrounded by an aggressive group of men whose insults included calling her a "Nazi".

While the police and courts must deal decisively with such intimidation, every effort should also be made to conduct public debate in a calm and rational manner.

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