Priti Patel: MPs cannot be cowed from meeting voters

16 October 2021, 13:20

By Will Taylor

Politicians must not be "cowed" from serving voters, Priti Patel has insisted after Sir David Amess was fatally stabbed in Essex.

The veteran Tory MP was meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday.

The Home Secretary told reporters security measures were being put in place to protect MPs, as the Met declared the tragedy was a terror incident.

Speaking in Southend after joining Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer in paying her respects at the church, she said: "We will carry on, we live in an open society, a democracy. We cannot be cowed by any individual or any motivation... to stop us from functioning, to serve our elected democracy."

Asked whether there could be a balance between the safety of MPs and the democratic process, she said: "It can be balanced, it can absolutely be balanced."

Ms Patel said Sir David was "was killed doing a job that he loves, serving his own constituents as an elected democratic member and, of course, acts of this... are absolutely wrong, and we cannot let that get in the way of our functioning democracy."

Read more: Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer leave flowers to Sir David Amess after 'terror incident'

"So that is why there are measures under way right now - I convened meetings yesterday, I've been with the Speaker of the House, and with the police and our security services to make sure that all measures are being put in place for the security of MPs so that they can carry on with their duties as elected democratic members," she added.

A 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder at the scene and is in custody at an Essex police station.

He is believed to be a British national with Somali heritage.

The Met said early investigations revealed a "potential motivation" linked to Islamist extremism.

Read more: Stop face-to-face meetings with voters until security review complete, MP requests

Read more: Tributes left to Tory MP Sir David Amess as police declare terror incident

MPs across the political spectrum paid tribute to Sir David, who was 69. His main interests included animal welfare and pro-life issues.

Mr Johnson and Sir Keir united to leave flowers to the MP on Saturday morning, visiting the church to pay their respects.

Despite Ms Patel's comments, some MPs have raised concerns about the safety of elected representatives.

Labour's Harriet Harman said she will write to the PM asking him to back a review into the safety of parliamentarians while Conservative Tobias Ellwood called for face-to-face meetings to be suspended until security arrangements are examined.