Home Secretary Suella Braverman launched an attack on the “Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati” as she defended the government’s controversial Public Order Bill.
The legislation attempts to crack down on disruptive protests, including a new offence of obstructing major transport networks.
Lock-on tactics have been repeatedly employed by groups such as Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil, with protesters gluing or otherwise attaching themselves to roads or other areas to cause disruption.
Referring to the disruption recently seen – which has included two demonstrators attaching themselves to the masts of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge – Ms Braverman gave a long list of who was to blame.
She told MPs: “Yes, I’m afraid, it’s the Labour Party, it’s the Lib Dems, it’s the coalition of chaos, it’s the Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati, dare I say, the anti-growth coalition that we have to thank for the disruption that we are seeing on our roads today.”
She called on MPs and peers to “do the right thing, respect the rights of the law abiding majority and support this bill”.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper branded Ms Braverman’s words “astonishing” adding: “The Home Secretary actually talked about a coalition of chaos, we can see it in front of us as we speak.”
She took swipe at the leadership crisis engulfing the Tory party, as Prime Minister Liz Truss clings onto her position after rowing back on almost all of her economic policies that brought her into office six weeks ago.
“You’ve got a selfish minority wreaking havoc, you’ve got someone who’s resisting all attempts by the powers that be to remove them, causing serious disruption, disorder, chaos, with serious consequences for the public, for businesses, for politics and for financial markets, but they’ve glued themselves under the desk,” Ms Cooper said.
“With honourable members opposite we wish them luck with their attempts to extricate another failing Tory prime minister from Number 10, but I suggest it isn’t a reason to change the law for everyone else.”
The Public Order Bill later cleared the House of Commons after MPs gave it a third reading by 283 votes to 234.
It will undergo further scrutiny in the House of Lords at a later date.
Up to six months in jail for harassing women accessing abortions
MPs also voted in favour of an amendment to the bill, which would offer greater protection to women accessing abortions by preventing protesters from gathering.
The move, pushed by a cross-party group of MPs, would introduce buffer zones around abortion clinics and hospitals where it would be an offence to interfere, intimidate or harass women accessing or people providing abortion services.
Those convicted could face up to six months in jail for a first offence or two years for further offences.
The move was welcomed by campaigners as a “huge victory for reproductive rights”, while Labour MP Stella Creasy, who moved the amendment, said the change would “not stop free speech on abortion”.
She told the Commons: “It simply says that you shouldn’t have a right to do that in the face of somebody – and very often these people are right up in front of people – at a point when they have made a decision.”
But Conservative Fiona Bruce said the buffer zone proposal has “grave implications, indeed threats, to freedom of thought, conscience, speech, belief and assembly”.
And Conservative former minister Sir Edward Leigh said: “We’re talking about people who are just trying to raise awareness about support available… to women facing difficult pregnancies with nowhere else to turn to.
“We’re going to criminalise these grandmothers but so much of the Just Stop Oil people walk free.”