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In the aftermath of the assassination of British MP David Amess, the debate on the safety of parliamentarians is back in force in the United Kingdom where another MP, Jo Cox, had already been assassinated in 2016. On the investigation side, the police qualified the murder terrorist act.
The shock caused in the United Kingdom by the death of the Conservative MP David Amess, stabbed, Friday, October 15, during a parliamentary permanence – a terrorist act according to the police – brought the subject of the safety of the elected representatives back to the front of the scene, five years after a first murder that had shaken the country.
A 25-year-old man has been 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.
The metropolitan police described 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 directorate.
>> To read: A British Conservative MP stabbed to death in his constituency
According to British media, the man arrested is a British national of Somali origin.
The death of David Amess, an MP for nearly 40 years praised by parliamentarians of all stripes for his kindness, recalled a recent trauma, the assassination of Jo Cox in June 2016.
The 41-year-old Labor MP and mother of two young children, was shot and stabbed to death by right-wing extremist Thomas Mair, 53, a week before the UK referendum on EU membership .
Sharp increase in attacks on parliamentarians
On Friday, Kim Leadbeater, Labor MP and sister of Jo Cox said she was “scared” by the attack and shocked “to think that something so horrible could happen again to another MP, 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.
All our hearts are full of shock and sadness at the death of Sir David Amess MP.
He was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics. pic.twitter.com/SIx6SZ1P3w
– Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) October 15, 2021
“After two murders in five years, we must take the safety of MPs seriously,” Labor MP Chris Bryant pleaded in a column for The Guardian. The latter suggested that in their constituencies, deputies meet 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,” he explained.
Interior Minister Priti Patel “asked all police forces to review security arrangements for deputies with immediate effect,” her spokesperson said Friday evening, adding that the minister would say more ” on time”.
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.
“It’s really petrifying”
Many elected officials have said they have been the subject of death threats in the context of Brexit which has deeply divided the country.
Threats and insults also weigh on parliamentary assistants. Jade Botterill, who worked for Labor MP Yvette Cooper between 2013 and 2019, said it pushed her to quit her post.
In the offices of MPs in their constituencies, people “parade and it is the staff who suffer the most attacks most of the time,” she said. “It’s really petrifying as a staff member.”
In 2000, Andrew Pennington, assistant to Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones was killed with a saber by a man with mental health problems who also injured Nigel Jones, who is currently a member of Parliament 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.
“In the coming days, we will have to discuss and review the security of MPs and any measures to be taken,” Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle said on Friday. He said the drama was sending “shock waves through the parliamentary community and the whole country.”