'I contact the police on a regular basis': MP says she's increasingly concerned about safety threats

Discussions about MP's safety have escalated since the October 7 Hamas attacks in Israel, ITV News Political Correspondent Harry Horton reports

A Labour former minister has told ITV News "I contact the police on a regular basis", and wishes MPs could be more "free" in their actions.

Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Central said she wishes MPs could have "open surgeries", but "we have to take precautions".

Ms Butler said she believed the increase in threats was partly due to lockdown, when "people were stuck at home, behind a computer", and that she tends "not to scroll" on social media because she receives so much abuse.

Ms Butler told ITV News: "I have my borough commander's number on my mobile phone", and that her team have to closely communicate with the police when they are out in the constituency.

Discussions about MP's safety have escalated since the October 7 Hamas attacks in Israel, and after the Commons speaker defied parliamentary convention because of his concerns about security and heightened tensions.

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Conservative backbencher Tobias Ellwood’s home was targeted earlier this month by pro-Palestine protesters, with the police warning his family to “stay away” from the property as “arriving through that crowd would’ve antagonised the situation”.

Tory MP Mike Freer announced he was stepping down earlier this month because of safety fears, after an arson attack on his office.

He revealed he and his staff had decided to wear stab vests when attending scheduled public events in his constituency, after learning that Ali Harbi Ali had watched his Finchley office before going on to knife Sir David Amess to death during a constituency surgery in 2021.

Last Friday there were also four arrests in Stoke-on-Trent after pro-Palestine demonstrators disrupted a Conservative fundraising event.

The family homes of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer have also been set upon by environmental protesters in past months.

Two serving MPs - Labour’s Jo Cox and Conservative Sir David Amess - have been murdered in the past eight years, with reforms to the security of parliamentarians having been introduced as a result.

Veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman told Good Morning Britain MPs should consider a return to a "hybrid" working model to protect their safety, saying "it's mostly women that get the threats, it's mostly black younger women".

Concerns about extremism were also inflamed at the weekend by comments from Lee Anderson, Suella Braverman, and Liz Truss.

Former Tory deputy chair Lee Anderson was suspended from the Tory party after he said "Islamists" had "got control" of the London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Suella Braverman said in an article for the Telegraph newspaper that "Islamists... are in charge" of Britain, and Liz Truss stayed silent in an interview when Steve Bannon praised far-right Tommy Robinson as a "hero".

Ms Butler said the comments by senior Tory figures are "extremely damaging", and criticised Ms Truss - "we've got a former prime minister vomiting conspiracy theories in the US, knowing full well the impact of that in the UK".

Ms Truss described the Economist and the Financial Times as part of the "deep state" at a ring-wing conference in the US last week, and stated in an article for Fox News that the "deep state" also sabotaged her leadership.

On Wednesday the government announced a £31 million security package for MPs, which will fund enhanced police capabilities, increase private sector security provisions for those facing a higher risk, and expand cyber security advice to locally elected representatives.

Ms Butler said the new measures will be a "comfort and security", but that "there are a plethora of things that need to be solved".

The Labour MP previously told parliament on Monday she had to seek extra police support over the weekend due to receiving far-right abuse following “racist, Islamophobic, anti-Muslim hate” she said had been partly encouraged by Mr Anderson, Ms Braverman and Ms Truss.

Speaking in the Commons, she said: “I have had to seek extra police support this weekend due to the far-right abuse that I have suffered inspired and unleashed in part by the conspiracy theory, the racist, Islamophobic, anti-Muslim hate peddled by members for Ashfield (Lee Anderson), Fareham (Suella Braverman) and South West Norfolk (Liz Truss).”

In 2020 Ms Butler had to close her constitutency office partly due to escalating racist threats.

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