UK PM May urged to calm 'chilling' backlash over judges' Brexit ruling

Ex-Attorney-General said some press coverage was like "Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe"

UK PM May urged to calm 'chilling' backlash over judges' Brexit ruling

Some of the front pages of Britain's newspapers after the UK High Court ruled MPs must have a say on triggering Article 50 to begin the UK's exit from the European Union | Image: Tim Ireland AP/Press Association Images

The British Prime Minister Theresa May has been urged to defend the independence of the judiciary after attacks on three British High Court judges who ruled over Brexit.

Former UK Attorney-General Dominic Grieve said the stinging criticism of the trio was "chilling and outrageous" and "smacks of the fascist state".

He said reading some of the press coverage was like "living in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe...I think there's a danger of a sort of mob psyche developing".

Newspaper headlines included calling the judges "Enemies of the People" and there was also criticism of them from some Conservative MPs.

The front page of the UK Daily Mail on November 3rd | Image via @DailyMailUK on Twitter

The anger was sparked by Thursday's ruling that the British government must seek MPs' approval before triggering Article 50 - the formal process of leaving the EU.

But now there are calls for Mrs May to take action to calm the backlash.

Bob Neill, the Conservative chairman of the justice select committee, said the attacks were "threatening the independence of our judiciary" and had "no place in a civilised land".

He told thw UK version of The Times: "All ministers from the Prime Minister down must now make clear that the independence of the judiciary is fundamental to our democracy.

"You have to respect that even if you think they have got a decision wrong."

Former minister and prominent Remain campaigner Anna Soubry said some media reports were "inciting hatred".

It comes as Mrs May suffered a setback after a pro-Brexit Conservative MP resigned over "irreconcilable policy differences" with the government.

Stephen Phillips announced he was quitting over what he perceived to be a failure to appreciate the need to consult the parliament over Brexit.

His resignation as MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham has fuelled speculation Mrs May will call an early election.

However, a Number 10 source insisted she stood by her declaration that she would not go to the country before 2020.

Meanwhile, the woman behind the successful High Court challenge on triggering Brexit has been subjected to a torrent of online abuse, including rape and death threats.

Gina Miller, who was born in Guyana in South America, has also been the target of racist rants by internet trolls, who have called for her to be deported.