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Egg-wielding Brexit supporter who struck Jeremy Corbyn jailed for 28 days

He was targeted in his constituency by John Murphy less than a week after Labour announced it would support a second referendum on EU membership.

John Murphy (centre) as he strikes Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (seated centre) with an egg (Crown Prosecutionn Service/PA)
John Murphy (centre) as he strikes Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (seated centre) with an egg (Crown Prosecutionn Service/PA)

A Brexit supporter who yelled “respect the vote” as he struck Jeremy Corbyn while clutching an egg has been jailed for 28 days.

The Labour leader has been forced to review his security after the attack in his constituency by John Murphy, which came less than a week after his party announced it would support a second referendum on EU membership.

An attack like this is an attack on our democratic process Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot

The assault on March 3 came amid heightened tensions over Brexit, with Remain-supporting politicians telling how they have received death threats and MPs being warned about their safety.

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot acknowledged the “current climate” as she jailed remorseless Murphy, 31, of Barnet, north-west London, for 28 days on Monday after he admitted a charge of assault by beating.

She told Westminster Magistrates’ Court: “An attack like this is an attack on our democratic process.”

Ms Arbuthnot had warned she wanted to send the message that “attacks on our MPs must stop” and noted Mr Corbyn has been forced to review his security, which could hinder his ability to meet voters.

CCTV footage released after the hearing shows Murphy calmly walking up behind a seated Mr Corbyn before thumping him on the side of the head.

The shouting assailant was then restrained by men and women at the Muslim Welfare Centre.

I feel these kind of attacks drive a wedge between elected representatives and those who elect them in the first place Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader

In a statement read to court, Mr Corbyn said he was “shocked and surprised” by the attack.

“I feel these kind of attacks drive a wedge between elected representatives and those who elect them in the first place. We are now reviewing and increasing my security protection,” he said.

Mr Corbyn had gone to the centre with shadow home secretary Diane Abbott after visiting north London’s Finsbury Park mosque, which was the site of the terror attack by far-right extremist Darren Osborne.

Prosecutor Kevin Christie told the court that Mr Corbyn took off his shoes and sat down next to his wife Laura Alvarez and a group of people who seemed to be “in great spirits”.

“Suddenly, he felt a strike to the right side of his forehead and then realised someone had reached over his right shoulder and struck him,” Mr Christie said.

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John Murphy (standing centre) is restrained after the incident (Crown Prosecution Service/PA)

“As he was struck, he heard a male voice shouting: ‘Respect the vote.'”

Mr Corbyn, after washing the egg off to reveal a red mark on his head, witnessed a “very aggressive” Murphy being restrained while his face was “contorted” with rage.

The Labour leader said in the victim impact statement that he was “determined” to continue to interact with the public, but accepted he must now “be more cautious”.

This case clearly sends out a message that such behaviour will not be tolerated and perpetrators will correctly be brought before the courts Kevin Christie, prosecutor

Malik Aldeiri, in mitigation, blamed Murphy’s “frustration and anger borne out of the political situation we find ourselves in”.

“He felt he was making a statement. He believes his civil rights were violated and this was a demonstration by him against what he says is a failure by Parliament to adhere to his democratic vote,” Mr Aldeiri added.

In recent days, independent MP Anna Soubry said she was targeted by “very, very serious” death threats and Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle said a man shouting “traitors” grappled with him in an attempted assault.

MPs have also been warned by Commons Deputy Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to travel by taxi or with colleagues because of the hostile climate.

Prime Minister Theresa May has faced heavy criticism from MPs, who accused her of whipping up tensions and putting them at risk of physical attack after she blamed them for delaying Brexit in a Downing Street speech.

Murphy, a freelance events promoter who lives with his parents in Totteridge Common, Whetstone, will also spend a year on licence.

In a statement he wrote before being sentenced, Murphy likened himself to civil rights protesters and said he was “perfectly happy to go to jail”, adding: “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave.”

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