Return to hybrid model of working could help MPs who 'feel vulnerable' amid safety fears, Labour MP tells LBC

27 February 2024, 00:45 | Updated: 27 February 2024, 00:47

Harriet Harman suggests a 'hybrid' model for MPs

By Jenny Medlicott

The Mother of the House of Commons has suggested MPs return to a ‘hybrid’ working model in a bid to protect their personal safety.

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Speaking to LBC’s Andrew Marr, Labour MP Harriet Harman said a hybrid model of working could help reassure MPs who feel “vulnerable”.

Asked if she thinks threats and intimidation are impacting the way MPs vote, she said: “It certainly has happened in the past. I remember during the Brexit debate talking to MPs who were saying, 'Yeah, I agree with this position, but I'm going to stay at home this week. I'm not going to go down to Parliament, because there's too many threats.' And these are not unrealistic threats.

“You think Mike Freer had his office subjected to an arson attack, Jo Cox was murdered, David Amess was murdered. This is not snowflakery, these are real issues of concern."

It comes amid growing fears about the safety of MPs in recent months over fears they could be targeted by extremists.

Ms Harman continued: “One of the things that I think could come out of a Speaker's Conference is an agreement that actually we could go back to hybrid again, which is that sometimes MPs could speak in the Chamber, sometimes they could speak from their constituency.

“They could sometimes vote through the division lobbies, or they could sometimes vote online. I think we've got a process now that we experimented with during Covid, which we could actually bring that back in.

“And that's something I would propose to a Speaker's Conference, so if somebody feels particularly under pressure, they can still participate in the Commons, but not in a way that makes them feel vulnerable.”

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Harriet Harman suggested a return to the hybrid model.
Harriet Harman suggested a return to the hybrid model. Picture: Alamy

On Sunday it emerged that three female MPs have been given bodyguards due to fears they could be targeted by extremists over the Israel-Hamas war.

Only senior politicians such as the prime minister, home secretary, or leader of the opposition usually receive such protection.

Elsewhere, conservative justice minister Mike Freer announced earlier this month that he would stand down at the next general election due to a string of death threats and an ‘arson’ attack over his ‘pro-Israel’ stance.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle raised serious concern for MPs' safety last week.

He drew criticism and calls to resign after going against convention during the SNP's Opposition Day debate on a Gaza ceasefire.

However, he explained that his motivation for widening the debate was fuelled by concern about MPs' security due to the intimidation suffered by some parliamentarians during the Middle East debate.

After fierce backlash over his procedural decision from many MPs, Hoyle explained: "I never ever want to go through a situation where I pick up a phone to find a friend, of whatever side, has been murdered by terrorists."

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