Vaccines minister talks of ‘overwhelming’ death threats days after Slovakian PM assassination attempt

The vaccines minister has spoken of the “overwhelming” death threats she receives, just days after the leader of Slovakia was shot in an assassination attempt.

Maria Caulfield said threats on her life rose every time the House of Commons discussed jabs.

The Slovakian prime minister, Robert Fico, was attacked on Wednesday during a meeting with his supporters.

Mr Fico remains “between life and death”, his ally the Hungarian leader Viktor Orban said on Friday.

The shooting, the first major assassination attempt on a European political leader for more than 20 years, has sent shockwaves through Westminster.

Minister Maria Caulfield  (PA) (PA Wire)
Minister Maria Caulfield (PA) (PA Wire)

MPs are already on high alert after two MPs were murdered in recent years. They currently receive much more security than they did even a decade ago, and many have panic alarms installed in their homes.

Health minister Ms Caulfield told MPs that threats against her life increased when the Commons discussed vaccines.

Just last year the Tories were forced to suspend one of their own MPs, Andrew Bridgen, for spreading misinformation about the Covid jab. The last straw was when he posted a tweet that compared inoculation to the Holocaust.

Ms Caulfield told the Commons: “As the vaccines minister, whenever there is a debate in this place on that subject, the number of death threats and the amount of abuse that I get is overwhelming at times.”

There was a noticeable “backlash whenever those debates are held”, she said.

Rescue workers wheel shot Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico to a hospital in the town of Banska (Tlačová agentúra SR)
Rescue workers wheel shot Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico to a hospital in the town of Banska (Tlačová agentúra SR)

Earlier this week a London Tory MP said Mike Freer said attacks were “a constant worry” as he was finally able to re-open his office following an arson attack.

The Finchley and Golders Green MP admitted he had made significant changes to his own personal safety.

His office now has additional security, including more cameras and lighting, but he also tends to drive to work now rather than get the Tube and has a GPS-linked device which enables him to quickly contact the police.

Tory chairman Richard Holden said he was “worried” about the safety of MPs, telling the Evening Standard: “And I think it goes beyond party [lines] as well. We’ve seen the assassination of both Jo Cox and Sir David Amess.

“This is something I think which all MPs and all parties are thinking about, and I know things can get heated in election campaigns, for example - but I always like to think that my political opponents in mainstream parties are political opponents - they aren’t enemies.

“I think it’s incumbent on us all, where there are things around MPs’ safety and campaigners’ safety, that we work together wherever possible.”

A pilot programme has also revealed the level of abuse directed at members of the Scottish Parliament, with almost 500 posts passed to Police Scotland in less than a year.