MPs ‘shouldn’t be wrapped in cotton wool’ says Baroness Jenkin
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Police could be called in to guard MP surgeries to keep them safe following the murder of Sir David Amess at a constituency event, the Home Secretary has said. Priti Patel said “protection” for MPs while they are holding talks with constituents was one of the options being considered under a “whole spectrum” of measures to address safety concerns in the wake of the Southend West MP’s killing on Friday. But Baroness Jenkin explained MPs are “just as vulnerable” in Westminster.
Speaking to LBC, Baroness Jenkin said: “I don’t think it’s all about surgeries. MPs live in their communities, don’t they?
“They go to civic service and supermarkets and we live life. Some are better known than others and some can walk down the high street without being accosted if they’re not known.
“I don’t think we should wrap our MPs in cotton wool.
“It’s perfectly easy to do surgeries on Zoom or the equivalent because particularly those with large rural communities, it’s often very hard in any case to get to wherever the MP is holding the surgery.
“You’re just as vulnerable in Westminster. You can’t possibly expect them to live in some sort of prison cell in their own home or in their offices.”
It came as Labour shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy admitted she did not feel safe when going about her Wigan constituency and said she was not sure that the situation was “recoverable” for public servants, following the killing of two serving MPs in the past five years.
Conservative Sir David, 69, who had been an MP since 1983, was meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Friday afternoon when he was stabbed multiple times in a frenzied attack.
His death comes after the Labour MP for Batley and Spen, Jo Cox, was murdered in 2016 as she was on her way to a constituency surgery.
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Ms Patel said discussions were under way with MPs about extra measures that might be required, with each representative contacted by their local police force since the attack in Essex.
The Cabinet minister told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme that the options being considered included that “when you hold your surgeries, could you have officers or some kind of protection while you’re holding your surgery?”
MPs could also be asked to share their whereabouts at all times with the police in a bid to keep them free from harm, she said.
Asked if she would consider airport-style security, Ms Patel said: “That would be with the police and the House authorities. There are lots of things under consideration already.”
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But Ms Patel was adamant that MPs should continue to be accessible to the public, despite the recent attacks and the barrage of threats they receive.
The Home Secretary said: “This should never ever break that link between an elected representative and their democratic role, responsibility and duty to the people who elected them.”
It came as police searches thought to be related to the investigation of Sir David’s murder continued on Sunday.
At least three officers wearing blue gloves were seen working inside a flat in a converted property in Kentish Town, north London, on Sunday morning.
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