Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has revealed he has received three threats to life and limbs in the two years that have resulted in police intervention.
Raab was speaking as politicians and the public struggle to accept the assassination of Sir David Amess, the Conservative MP for Southend West who was fatally assaulted during a meeting with voters in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Friday.
A 25-year-old man, understood to be Ali Harbi Ali, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of killing Amesss and remains in police custody under terrorism legislation.
The prime minister will pay homage to Amess at the House of Commons on Monday after his family called on people to be tolerant and put aside hatred in his memory.
Raab said he had three life and limb threats over the past two years.
He told BBC Breakfast: “There will be people who have worse abuse than I do, and I especially feel for female MPs, and I know my colleagues who have left, for example, Twitter because it ‘s so dirty.
I have had three life and limb threats over the last two years.
He said those incidents all resulted in an intervention. Raab later told ITVs Good Morning Britain that the most recent threat he had received was an acid attack. He said politicians deserved maximum control, but added that traditional and social media had a role to play in reducing hatred.
I think there have also been quite widespread insults of politicians in the media, he added.
The constant insults sometimes covert, sometimes ostensibly of politicians create the kind of climate in which these episodes occur.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4s Today, Eleanor Laing, a Vice President of the House of Commons, called for a culture of kindness among the public, politicians and the media.
A lot of people have talked about what a kind and gentle man David Amess was, she said. This is absolutely right. He was cheerful, energetic, always polite and extremely polite and thoughtful.
How unfortunate that the media does not say those things to more members of parliament while they are still doing their job as a member of parliament instead of waiting until they are no longer there.
It can be very disturbing when you know that MPs and ministers are working hard to solve one problem or another and when issues are discussed in the media, MPs are insulted, ministers are spoken to very harshly and this helps create a culture of attack. Why can’t we try to have a culture of kindness?
Asked by Sky News if plainclothes police officers should be stationed outside the MPs’ constituency offices, Raab, the justice secretary, suggested that private security guards would be made available.
It depends on the individual, they are more likely to look at things like private security guards, there is already money available for this, he said.
Raab said he personally would not like the outerwear officers outside his office because he would worry about the cooling effect and did not want a wedge but between me and the people who chose me.
However, he said he would not prevent another MP from doing so if that is what they wanted.
No, he said. I can not legislate and describe for every MP, anyone who has nervousness and anxiety, and [police] force must be lowered with them to provide objective security, which gives them peace of mind.
Raab said that when he became an MP in 2010 he had been very aware that the risk for us as representatives has increased especially at the local level.
The Deputy Prime Minister said that online activity had increased during the pandemic and while some of them were positive, such as communication with the family, there was also a dark side to what was happening online.
He magnified the positivity, but also some of the weaknesses, he said.
Raab signaled that he could support the closure of anonymous social media accounts to fight online hatred, but said he did not want to send a message to tyrants around the world that they could expose campaigners who need anonymity.
He told Sky News: In balance I think there is an opportunity to look at this very carefully. I do not understand why people should be able to abuse their position on social media by a veil of anonymity.
Mayor Sir Lindsay Hoyle will make a statement Monday before Boris Johnson moves a motion for a postponement, which will allow lawmakers to open the homage session, which runs until 5:30 p.m. .
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