Scotland Yard: Protestors chant anti-policing bill slogan
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Last night MPs approved the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that proposes a range of changes to UK laws. As well as aiming to strengthen sentences for existing offences, the Bill also looks to place further restrictions on some protests.
It will allow time and noise limits to be imposed on demonstrations with those guilty of breaking the laws facing a fine or even a jail sentence.
Some have dubbed the legislation “the Steve Bray law”, with claims Home Secretary Priti Patel was targeting the ardent anti-Brexit campaigner with the changes to protest laws.
Mr Bray regularly protests outside the House of Commons, blaring out music through speakers and shouting through a megaphone.
After the Bill was given consent in the Commons by 365 votes to 265 last night, the Rejoiner has vowed to continue protesting.
He wrote on social media: “Our history will commend all those that stood against this corrupt Government, just as history will condemn this authoritarian and criminal Government.
“Goodwill always prevail over evil.
“We make this criminal Government history for our future.
“If I have to go to prison for protesting and holding these corrupt f***ers to account then so be it.
“Firstly the police have to enforce it, secondly the judiciary have to criminalise people for it.”
He added: “If we are already going to be criminalised for protesting with an up to 10 year sentence we may as well go the whole hogg and make it f***ing worth it.”
Pledging to continue protesting, Mr Bray joked in another tweet: “At what point do we seek political asylum in the European Union?”
Opposition parties and backbench Tory MPs criticised the Bill in the Commons yesterday.
They warned the new legislation risked undermining the right to free speech.
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The Liberal Democrats tabled amendments in a bid to remove the parts of the Bill which imposes conditions on processions and protests.
But the party’s amendment was rejected by 354 votes to 273.
Shadow Home Office minister Sarah Jones said the Bill “went too far” in reforming public order legislation.
She said: “The new measures in the Bill target protesters for being too noisy and causing serious unease or serious annoyance.”
Meanwhile, Conservative ex-Cabinet member David Davis warned “demonstrations do lead to inconvenience” and must be respected as a democratic right.
Defending the Bill, Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said: “The Bill does not stop the freedom to demonstrate. It balances that freedom against the rights and liberties of others.”
The Bill must still be debated and voted on in the House of Lords before it can become law.
If peers reject the Bill or amend the legislation to remove the curbs on protesting, it will once again return to the Commons for further scrutiny and debate.
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