Risk to MPs not clear, Commons Leader says

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The risk to Members of Parliament is not clear, the Commons Leader has said, after Sir David Amess was killed last week.

Jacob Rees-Mogg said MPs should receive “advice bordering on instruction” about how they and their staff can remain safe, adding the Home Secretary and Speaker are working together to ensure MPs are informed on the risk and options available to them.

The issue of MP’s safety came up during business questions on Thursday, where MPs can question the Leader of the House of Commons, following the fatal stabbing of Sir David last week while the MP was meeting constituents at his surgery.

The Scottish National Party Commons leader Pete Wishart said: “Many of us will be leaving to go back to our constituencies in the next 24 hours with a greater sense of anxiety and a greater sense of the responsibility that we all feel towards the staff that work with us.

“I think what members are looking for more than anything else is clear advice bordering on instruction about how we should do our businesses in our constituencies.”

He asked for further and ongoing “clear advice” from the police and security service “in order that members of Parliament are acquainted with what we can do in order to keep ourselves and our staff safe”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Home Secretary Priti Patel (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Commons Leader Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I think he’s right that members want very clear advice.

“Now the Home Secretary is working very closely with the Speaker.

“Local police authorities will have contacted every member and many of them are getting in touch with further advice.

“I think advice bordering on instruction is what we are looking for because there are many forms of safety available to members but they don’t necessarily all know what they are.”

He added: “I think we all also want to know what the real level of risk is.

“I don’t feel that that is yet clear, and that may take some time to become clear, but it needs to be communicated to members with all the support that is also available.”

He said the Home Secretary and the Speaker will work to together “to try and ensure members are properly informed”.

On Wednesday the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said that intelligence officers had upgraded the threat level for politicians to “substantial”.

While Ms Patel did not specifically state what the increase to substantial means, the PA news agency understands it corresponds with the national guidance, meaning “an attack is likely”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel urged colleagues to take the “change in risk seriously” following a review by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre linked to MI5.

She told the Commons that there was no “specific or imminent threat” but it was understood MPs will now be contacted over how their security arrangements may be altered.

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