‘Bring your own noose’ as you enter the ‘killing zone’ -- anonymous briefings against British Prime Minister Theresa May are nothing new, but the ferocity of the latest batch sparked a fierce backlash Monday.
Many of May's critics and her allies rounded on unnamed pro-Brexit members of her Conservative party who used violent language to attack her Brexit strategy in the weekend newspapers.
One MP was quoted as saying that she should ‘bring her own noose’ to a meeting later this week of Conservative lawmakers.
Another newspaper quoted an MP as saying that May was entering the ‘killing zone’, with another adding: ‘Assassination is in the air’.
A former minister reportedly said: ‘The moment is coming when the knife gets heated, stuck in her front and twisted. She'll be dead soon.’
The comments drew a chorus of outrage from fellow Conservative MPs, with pro-Europeans through to ardent Brexiteers condemning them as ‘totally unacceptable’.
Senior lawmaker Robert Halfon said it was ‘a shame on the Conservative party’.
Opposition Labour MP Yvette Cooper said it was ‘dehumanising’ and ‘normalising violence in public debate’, noting the 2016 murder of her colleague Jo Cox by a far-right sympathiser.
Conservative MP Mark Francois, a member of a hardline eurosceptic group, said the language was ‘unacceptable’.
But he told the BBC: ‘The problem is that there is a lot of frustration on the backbenches at the moment, both among Leavers and Remainers, at the general state of play.’
Fellow Brexiteer Conservative Andrew Bridgen warned: ‘At the moment that (language) is unhelpful. It won't persuade colleagues to back a change of leadership.
‘It's actually going to be counter-productive at this point.’
The prime minister's spokesman refused to comment on anonymous briefings, but said: ‘Personal vitriol has no place in politics.’