Speaking on Telegraph journalist Christopher Hope’s podcast, Chopper’s Politics, former Attorney General and Conservative MP Sir Geoffrey Cox criticised those who are against the bill - which will increase police powers - and labelled them “hysterical” and “ignorant”.
He said: “In general principle I see this [bill] as a desirable and legitimate step. There’s nothing unreasonable in it, and there’s been a good deal of left-wing hysteria, much of it frankly ignorant.
“I sometimes wonder if some of the critics of the bill have read it because the truth is its a perfectly reasonable approach.”
The legislation, if passed, will allow police to place more conditions on protests including those conducted by just one person, with limits such as imposing a start and finish time, setting noise limits and increasing fines for those refusing to follow police instructions to up to £2,500.
The proposed law also includes an offence of “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance”. Currently, police have to show protests may result in “serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community” to restrict them.
The unveiling of this bill has led to violent protests in Bristol, as well as voracious criticism from campaign groups like Rights of Women and the Labour Party, as well as members of the public:
But, continuing his tirade, Cox said those against the bill were motivated by political reasons and were not well-informed enough about it to pass judgement. He added that the bill would merely simplify existing measures. He said:
“Such an enormous amount of armchair criticism is made of this bill but not always on the basis of a great deal of knowledge.
“The government has seen London grind to a halt for days on end by forms of static and moving protest.
“There comes a point when that balance tips and where the disruption and impact caused- to people going about their daily business is a legitimate interest to protect.”
The bill has passed its first reading with 359 votes in favour and 263 against it.
He added: “There’s been an enormous amount of hysterical criticism of this bill.
“I don’t think it can be characterised in the hysterical way the left have tried to stereotype it as some sort of attack on democracy.”
Cox added that the bill was not “unimprovable” and that it should be scrutinised by parliament, though offered no ways through which to improve it.
“I can’t pretend at this stage to have done any detailed thinking on this,” he said.
You could have fooled us, Geoff.