Lee Anderson tells anti-monarchy protesters to ’emigrate’

Senior Tory MP Lee Anderson has drawn ire for telling anti-monarchy activists to “emigrate” rather than exercise their right to protest.

The deputy chairman of the Conservative Party was commenting on dozens of arrests of protesters throughout the King’s coronation day.

The Metropolitan Police have faced criticism after more than 50 people were arrested for alleged affray, public nuisance and breach-of-the-peace offences, a move described by human rights organisations as “a dangerous precedent for us as a democratic nation”.

But Mr Anderson appeared to side with the police, especially against protesters who were holding up signs reading Not My King near Buckingham Palace.

Sharing an article on the arrests on Twitter, Mr Anderson wrote: “Not My King?

“If you do not wish to live in a country that has a monarchy the solution is not to turn up with your silly boards.

“The solution is to emigrate.”

Critics on social media condemned his “anti-democratic” remarks and pointed out the right to protest peacefully, while others expressed support for his opinion.

A protestor holds up a placard reading ‘Not My King in Trafalgar Square
A protestor holds up a placard reading ‘Not My King in Trafalgar Square (PA)

Jonathan Harris, a Lib Dem councillor in West Northamptonshire, tweeted: “30 p Lee – Idiot on display. You took the rights away for British people to live and work across the EU, and forget that great democracies are built on and absolutely allow the right to peaceful protest.”

Home Secretary Suella Braverman later praised the police.

She tweeted: “I’m incredibly grateful to the police for all their hard work at today’s Coronation celebration to ensure it was safe & passed without incident.”

But Labour’s Jess Phillips, who is a shadow home office minister, wrote: “Our nation and our King is not so fragile as to not be able to take harmless protest of a different view.”

Labour former minister Sir Chris Bryant said: “Freedom of speech is the silver thread that runs through a parliamentary constitutional monarchy.”

It is not the first time Mr Anderson, the MP for Ashfield, has proved controversial, having previously called for the return of the death penalty and claiming people on Universal Credit were not in poverty.

He has been dubbed “30p Lee” for claiming that meals could be prepared for that sum and suggesting people using food banks could not budget.

Mr Anderson recently clashed with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley over the force’s handling of protests, telling him to “leave his ivory tower” to deal with demonstrators in Westminster.

Under the controversial new Public Order Act, protesters who have an object with the intention of using it to “lock on” are liable to a fine, with those who block roads facing 12 months in prison.