Rory Stewart has described the atmosphere outside Parliament as “difficult” amid growing tensions among protesters.

The Cumbrian MP was speaking on the BBC’s Politics Live show about the high-profile abuse suffered by Anna Soubry - who supports a controversial second Brexit referendum.

Asked if it was scary out there for MPs at the moment, he said: “It’s difficult, particularly for someone like Anna Soubry.

“I mean, these people sound like very unpleasant idiots. It’s really horrible what they are doing.”

Mr Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border and also justice minister, said it raises wider questions about Brexit and politics.

“What kind of MPs do we want? If we put up with this kind of abuse, are we going to be able to talk honestly about complicated issues?” he asked.

He was joined on the panel by Labour MP Sarah Champion, who admitted to being affected by aggression on display.

“I think the intimidation is starting to work. I’m mindful of what I say. I do not like the abuse that I constantly get. It’s bullying/intimidation, and women MPs seem to be getting the brunt of it,” she said.

Mr Stewart, who backs the current Brexit deal, also spoke of the online abuse he receives from leave and remain supporters.

Yet he referred to the Brexit summit he held recently in Cumbria, featuring about 200 people from each side. “I thought it was going to be crazy, yet it was an incredibly courteous, constructive conversation,” he said.