Tory MP Mike Freer to step down from North London seat over safety fears

  • Political Correspondent Simon Harris with this report

Conservative Justice Minister Mike Freer said he will stand down at the next general election after a series of death threats and an arson attack on his constituency office.

He has served as the Finchley and Golders Green MP since 2010 but now says it is time to “say enough” as he can no longer put his family through the anxiety over his safety.

In a letter to his local Conservative association Mr Freer wrote it “will be an enormous wrench to step down”, but that the attacks “have weighed heavily on me and my husband, Angelo”.

He said: "Since my election as MP in 2010 I have sadly had several serious threats to my personal safety.

"The attacks by Muslims Against Crusades, Ali Harbi Ali and the recent arson attack (where the motives remain unclear) have weighed heavily on me and my husband, Angelo."

The MP and his staff 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 to death during a constituency surgery in 2021.

Police and Fire crews were called to his constituency office on Christmas Eve Credit: @Finchleytories

"These serious incidents are alongside the many 'low level' incidents. No MP can operate effectively without the support of their spouse and wider family.

"Sadly the serious incidents place intolerable stress on them too."

Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: "There comes a point when the threats to your personal safety become too much."

Mike Freer said: "I was very lucky that actually on the day [of Ali Harbi Ali's attempted attack] I was due to be in Finchley, I happened to change my plans and came into Whitehall.

"Otherwise who knows whether I would have been attacked or survived an attack. He said he came to Finchley to attack me."

Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick shared his frustration at political climate and risk to politicians.

Posting on X, he wrote: "It is shameful that an MP has been intimidated out of office.

"Our political discourse should improve. But the far bigger problem for our liberal democracy is virulently anti-British Islamist extremism which is both deeply homophobic and antisemitic, and in this case violent.

"The ideology has to be confronted and comprehensively defeated. "We cannot possibly hope to tackle extremism if we keep failing to diagnose it or, worse still, if when we do recognise it we pretend it is something else and reach for warm words.

"Two years ago I wrote about how politicians failed to call out Islamist extremism behind Sir David Amess’s murder.

"Today the same thing is happening as again society turns a blind eye. It must end."

Mr Freer won his seat by around 6,600 votes at the last general election in 2019, seeing off a Liberal Democrat challenger.

In his resignation statement he went on to say: "It will be an enormous wrench to step down, it has been the privilege of my life to serve the wonderfully diverse and vibrant area that is Finchley & Golders Green."

"Serving the constituents and getting things done is what makes the job worthwhile."

Mr Freer joins a series of MPs who have announced their intention not to contest the next election, which is expected later this year.

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