By Jason Farrell. Senior Political Correspondent
Jacob Rees-Mogg was at the centre of a highly physical fracas in Bristol as masked protesters tried to disrupt an event he was speaking at.
Video shows the prominent Conservative Leave campaigner trying to diffuse a fight at the event at the University of West England on Friday night.
One attendee said protesters hurled abuse at him, calling him a “nazi,” a “fascist and a racist”.
At times it looked like the MP was in danger of being punched but Mr Rees-Mogg played down events.
He told Sky News: “All it was was a handful of shouty people who wanted to disrupt a public meeting I was about to address. It was not really a fight, just noisy.”
Mr Rees-Mogg had been due to address the UWE Bristol Politics and International Relations Society.
Onlookers said he had just arrived at the event with no security when a group, some wearing masks, began to shout at him.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: “They did not want me to have a platform and were not willing to discuss any specific concerns.”
Footage appears to corroborate this account and shows that, as other members of the audience reacted to the disruptive group, things started to turn nasty.
The Tory MP, known for his beanpole physique and pin-striped suits, was suddenly trying to hold back the aggressive actions of a man wearing sunglasses.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I didn’t want people to be hit and no one seemed likely to hit me but I am a weed.”
Ten minutes later the protesters were removed by security and the event continued as planned.
Hitting out at the demonstrators, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner tweeted: “My politics are not those of @Jacob_Rees_Mogg however l utterly condemn the behaviour of those tonight who tried to attack him whilst he was due to speak at an event he was invited to.
“It’s extremely intimidating for any MP who travels alone to an event to be treated like this.”
In a statement, UWE Bristol said: “We are absolutely appalled by the conduct of a small number of attendees.
“It is our understanding at this stage that a small group of protesters broke into the lecture theatre where the event was due to take place via the back doors.
“The police were called and our security attended.
“We understand that these protesters were not UWE Bristol students and did not have tickets for the event.”