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HomeLive StreamBoris Johnson warned his protest curbs would ‘make a dictator blush’

Boris Johnson warned his protest curbs would ‘make a dictator blush’

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Boris Johnson’s controversial curbs on protests would “make a dictator blush” and show his Government’s liking for “authoritarianism”, MPs have warned.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill cleared its first parliamentary hurdle after receiving a second reading by 359 votes to 263, majority 96, despite opposition to several measures contained within it.

Labour tabled an amendment intended to block the Bill from being considered further, although this was defeated by 359 votes to 225, majority 134.

The motion from Labour was based on support for some sections – such as tougher sentences for serious crimes including child murder – alongside warnings it “rushes” changes to protest law and “fails” to take action to protect women.

As part of efforts to overhaul the justice system, the Government has proposed a raft of changes in the Bill.

The loose and lazy way this legislation is drafted would make a dictator blush. Protests will be noisy, protests will disrupt and no matter how offensive we may find the issue at their heart, the right to protest should be protected

These include plans to give police in England and Wales more powers to impose conditions on non-violent protests judged to be too noisy and thereby causing “intimidation or harassment” or “serious unease, alarm or distress” to the public.

Time and noise limits could be imposed as a result of the measures in the Bill and those convicted could face a fine or jail.

Speaking in the Commons, DUP MP Gavin Robinson (Belfast East) said: “I must indicate that I rail against, in the strongest possible terms, the overarching, sweeping and draconian provisions on protest. I have heard Government’s position around what they intend.

“The loose and lazy way this legislation is drafted would make a dictator blush. Protests will be noisy, protests will disrupt and no matter how offensive we may find the issue at their heart, the right to protest should be protected.”

Labour MP Clive Efford (Eltham) claimed: “We’re witnessing a Tory-led coup without guns.”

Labour former justice minister Maria Eagle added: “This populist Government has swiftly developed a penchant for authoritarianism.”

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