Tory backbenchers say party’s own adverts attacking Labour MPs over illegal migrants are safety risk

A Tory advertising campaign attacking Labour over illegal migration could be a risk to the safety of MPs, Conservative backbenchers have said.

New adverts targeting Labour MPs in marginal seats, as well as Labour’s top team such as Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, focused on the party’s opposition to the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill.

A number of Conservative MPs argued in a WhatsApp group aimed at sharing these adverts on social media that they could lead to MPs being attacked.

Texts seen by Bloomberg showed that Miriam Cates, a 2019-intake MP, said that the ads “lead directly to attacks on MPs and their families and they stoke up hatred of politicians”.

It comes after MPs were encouraged to use security at their surgeries in the wake of the murder of Sir David Amess. Sir David became the second MP to be murdered since the Brexit referendum in 2016.

The Speaker of the House of Commons and the Home Secretary launched a review of MPs’ security arrangements following his death, with Mark Harper revealing that he and four of his staff had received security training.

The attack ads, featuring black and white images of the MPs’ faces read: “Your MP voted to keep illegal migrants in Britain.”

‘Very disappointing’

It comes two weeks before the UK’s local elections on May 5, where voters will have their say following “partygate” and a rise in the cost of living.

“This is very, very disappointing,” wrote Ms Cates on WhatsApp.

Jackie Doyle-Price, her Conservative colleague, said the party should “hold ourselves to good standards of behaviour”.

One Tory MP, Jonathan Gullis, said that the party should be allowed to do “what they want to do, in what they believe is the best way to retain our seats”.

Polling last week suggested that the Tories could lose as many as 800 council seats in the local elections, a swing which if replicated at the next general election, would see Sir Keir Starmer become prime minister.

A Conservative source said that the comments in the WhatsApp group were “individual views” of the MPs.

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