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Security of British parliamentarians in question after David Amess assassination

The shock caused in the UK by the death of Tory MP David Amess, stabbed during a parliamentary duty – a terrorist act according to the police – brought the subject of the safety of elected officials back to the fore, five years later the murder of Labor Jo Cox in similar circumstances.

On Friday, a 25-year-old man was arrested in the Methodist church where the 69-year-old MP and father of 5 received his constituents in Leigh-on-Sea, about 37 miles east of London.

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What we know about the murder of British Conservative MP David Amess

The Metropolitan Police qualified the murder as a terrorist act and indicated that the first elements of the investigation “Revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism”, on the night of Friday to Saturday, a few hours after the investigation was entrusted to the anti-terrorism department. According to British media, the man arrested is a British national of Somali origin.

“Two murders in five years”

The death of David Amess, an MP for nearly 40 years praised by parliamentarians of all stripes for his kindness, recalled the still recent trauma of the assassination of Jo Cox, in 2016. This 41-year-old MP and mother of two young children, had been shot and stabbed to death by right-wing extremist Thomas Mair, 53, a week before the UK referendum on EU membership.

Labor MP Kim Leadbeater and sister of Jo Cox said on Friday “Scared” by the attack and shocked by “To think that something so horrible could happen again to another deputy, to another family”.

These two dramas question the security arrangements surrounding deputies, in particular when they are in contact with the public in their constituencies.

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“After two murders in five years, we must take the safety of deputies seriously”, pleaded Labor MP Chris Bryant in a column published by “The Guardian”. He suggested that in their constituencies, MPs meet with their constituents “Only by appointment” :

“We don’t want to live in fortresses. But I don’t want to lose another colleague to a violent death. “

Interior Minister Priti Patel “Called on all police forces to review security arrangements for deputies with immediate effect”, said his spokesperson on Friday evening, specifying that the minister would say more ” on time “.

Increase in delinquency

The concern is fueled by police figures which show an increase in acts of delinquency against parliamentarians. In 2019, Scotland Yard had cited a surge of 126% between 2017 and 2018 and a rise of 90% in the first four months of 2019.

Many elected officials have said they have been the subject of death threats in the context of Brexit which has deeply divided the country.

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Threats and insults also weigh heavily on parliamentary assistants. Jade Botterill, who worked for Labor MP Yvette Cooper between 2013 and 2019, said that this prompted her to quit her post.

In the offices of MPs in their constituencies, people “March past and it is the staff who suffer the most attacks most of the time”, she said. “It’s really petrifying as a staff member. “

Other attacks during hotlines

In 2000, Andrew Pennington, assistant to Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones was killed with a saber by a man suffering from mental health problems who had also injured Nigel Jones, in full parliamentary duty in Cheltenham, in the west of the ‘England.

In 2010, Labor Stephen Timms was stabbed twice by a 21-year-old Islamist on the pretext that he had voted in favor of British military intervention in Iraq in 2003. He had recovered from his injuries which could have cost him his life.

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“In the coming days, we will have to discuss and examine the security of the deputies and all the measures to be taken” Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said on Friday. He pointed out that the drama sent “Shock waves through the parliamentary community and the whole country”.

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