British Prime Minister heads Westminster tribute to MP ‘Tory’ Ammes as he discusses politicians’ safety
With sadness and unity, reliving with emotion and humor anecdotes of his almost four decades of service, and willing to not allow, as Boris Johnson himself promised, “that those who commit acts of evil triumph over democracy and Parliament that Sir David He loved so much ”, the House of Commons paid tribute this Monday to the Conservative deputy killed on Friday in an attack that the Police consider Islamist terrorism. The representatives remembered David Amess as a decent, committed and kind man, in the words of his colleagues and political rivals, who for a day left their differences parked at the door.
Outside the House, however, the debate revolved around the security of elected positions in the United Kingdom, already questioned after the murder of Labor MP Jo Cox five years ago in the middle of the referendum campaign on ‘Brexit’. Amess was assassinated in a church of the town of Leigh-on-Sea in a meeting with voters. The attacker had reportedly requested an appointment to meet with him. The Government is now considering offering police protection to politicians in these meetings and, according to the Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel, even the use of security arches such as those used in airports is being considered. At the moment there is nothing specific, but the reinforcement of security measures does not convince everyone equally.
The ‘surgeries’, as this weekly meeting on Fridays between the deputies and the members of the communities they represent is known, are one of the bases of the British parliamentary system, they allow direct contact between politicians and the daily problems of their constituents help them keep perspective on what matters in the constituency and are accountable to voters. Some deputies consider, however, that the police presence could discourage voters and pervert the nature of these encounters. The Prime Minister himself yesterday asked the deputies not to reduce contact with citizens and not to be intimidated by “those who seek to divide us and spread hatred.”
Insults and threats
There are many politicians who in recent days have denounced the insults and threats to which they are subjected almost daily, fueled by the deterioration of the political debate, in a climate rarefied by ‘Brexit’ and the difficulties of the pandemic, and sheltered from the anonymity of social networks. The last has been the former Foreign Minister, Dominique Raab, who this Monday acknowledged that he had received three death threats in the last two years, as explained to the ITV channel, or the president of the House of Commons, Lindsey Hoyle, at the who threatened on Twitter to bomb his car. Patel has assured that the police are already in contact with those representatives who have received some kind of threat and, yesterday, a 76-year-old man was arrested after threatening to kill another Labor deputy, Chris Bryant.
But it is not clear, however, that this reinforcement would have saved David Amess, on whom no specific intimidation hung. The police are investigating whether the detainee after the attack, 25-year-old Ali Harbi Ali, chose him at random because he is a public representative and is still looking for clues as to his possible motivations. According to various British media, the young man could have been radicalized by watching videos of extremist preachers on the internet. Precisely, the hours spent in front of the screens during confinement worry the British intelligence services that they consider, as published this Monday by the ‘Daily Telegraph’, that they could give rise to a wave of attacks by radicalized ‘lone wolves’ during the long months of confinement due to the pandemic.