Hillary Clinton has urged the UK government to do more to protect its female MPs after increasing levels of abuse.
The former US Presidential candidate said she had spoken to British politicians who told her they were ‘scared’ in the wake of the murder of Labour’s Jo Cox.
A record number of female politicians across the political spectrum have announced they will not be standing in next month’s General Election.
Speaking to ITV’s Lorraine on Tuesday morning, Mrs Clinton said: ‘I saw with such horror the murder of Jo Cox.
‘It was a political assassination.
‘I have talked with current and former women members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords and they are scared because they are being threatened and intimidated.’
A number of high-profile MPs, including former ministers Amber Rudd and Nicky Morgan, have announced they are stepping down because of online abuse and threats against them and their families.
Lib Dem Heidi Allen cited the toxic atmosphere as her reason to quit, saying she was ‘exhausted by the invasion into my privacy and the nastiness and intimidation that has become commonplace.’
Mrs Clinton said social media was being used to attack people and the government had not done enough to condemn the abuse.
She continued: ‘The social media effect where people are being threatened with death and other attacks, this has to stop and your government should be really clear about that.
‘Your government needs to stand up and say “We don’t want to lose women, regardless of party. We want women to stand for office, be elected and serve.
‘And we are going to make it really clear that we are going to protect these women and we are going to do everything possible to enable them, to fulfil their own dream of being an elected leader and we can’t allow people to be intimated from being full participants in democracy.’
Groups campaigning for equality in parliament have said they are ‘alarmed’ at the number of women who are stepping down.
Frances Scott of 50:50 Parliament said: ‘The online threats can be extremely personal and violent in nature.
‘Women have received death threats, threats of rape, there’s also been threats made to family, children, close relatives and fathers.
A recent study by the Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee found that online abuse is putting women off standing for election.
Two-thirds of female MPs said that progress on tackling violence against women in politics, including online abuse, impacted their willingness to stand for re-election.
That compared to one-in-four male MPs.
Jo Cox died after being shot and stabbed multiple times in Birstall, West Yorkshire, just days before the 2016 EU referendum.
Far-right terrorist Thomas Mair launched the attack screaming ‘this is for Britain’ and has since been jailed for life for the MP’s murder.
Female politicians have appealed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to moderate his language surrounding Brexit.
During a fiery debate in the House of Commons in September, MP Paula Sherriff told of receiving death threats and touched about her colleague’s murder.
She told Mr Johnson: ‘Many of us are subject to death threats and abuse every single day. And they often quote his words – surrender act, betrayal, traitor.
‘We must moderate our language and it must come from the Prime Minister first.’
Mr Johnson retaliated, calling the concern ‘humbug.’