Five years after the murder of Joe Cox, the death of Conservative MP David Ames, who was the victim of a terrorist, Islamist attack, according to the police, brings up again the issue of the security of the elected in Great Britain.
On Friday, a 25-year-old man was arrested inside a Methodist church in Lee-on-Sea, about 60 miles (60 km) east of London, after stabbing and killing a 69-year-old lawmaker while talking to voters in his constituency.
Speaking of terrorist attackLondon police say an investigation by the Counter-Terrorism Service shows at this stage that the perpetrator’s motive is most likely linked to “extremist Islamism”.
According to British media, the 25-year-old is a British citizen of Somali origin. Police believe he acted alone. The Guardian reported that it may have something to do with a person who was recently identified in the anti-radicalization program.
John Lump, a local councilor close to the Conservative Party, said the young man waited patiently for his turn while others talked to the lawmaker and then threw himself at him and stabbed him several times in front of his two aides.
“I was told he had stabbed Sir David and was just waiting for the police to arrive,” Kevin Buck, another local official, told the Telegraph.
The death of Ames, who was elected MP for 40 years and was appreciated by all his colleagues for his kindness, shocked the country. To show their unity, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labor leader Kir Starmer lay wreaths together at the scene of the tragedy. Johnson also left a farewell note to his “beloved friend”.
Their example was followed by many citizens, including members of the Muslim community who left flowers in the church. In a note someone wrote “Rest in peace, you did not deserve this”.
The attack evoked memories of the June 2016 assassination of Labor MP Joe Cox. A week before the Brexit referendum, far-right Thomas Meyer, 53, shot and stabbed her as she went to meet its voters.
These two tragedies bring the issue of MPs’ safety to the fore, especially when they come in contact with the public in their constituencies.
“We can not allow a man to intimidate us” assessed the Minister of Interior Priti Patel.
But some MEPs are already thinking about changing the way they receive the public in order to increase their security. Labor MP Chris Bryd told the Guardian in an article that lawmakers would no longer meet with their constituents “except by appointment”. “We do not want to live in fortresses. “But I do not want to lose another colleague by violent death.”, explained.
Conservative Tobias Elwood, who had tried to save police officer Keith Palmer, who was killed in an attack near Parliament in 2017, for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility, has proposed temporarily suspending contact with voters.
Other lawmakers, however, went to the scheduled meetings with citizens today, such as Conservative Robert Largan, who said he would continue those contacts and called his colleagues via Twitter. “To defend democracy”.
The police are recording large increase in offenses against Members in recent years: + 126% between 2017-18 and + 90% in the first four months of 2019. Many MPs say that they or their associates received death threats on the occasion of Brexit. Jade Butrill, a colleague of Labor Yvette Cooper between 2013-19, said she decided to resign because the insults and threats she was receiving were causing her nightmares.
Determined to “look at security and all the measures that need to be taken”, House Speaker Lindsay Hoyle stressed that the tragedy was a “shock to MPs and to the whole country”.