Saturday, January 28

PM to Lead Commons Tributes to David Amess as Family Call for Unity | UK News


Boris Johnson will address tributes to Sir David Amess in the House of Commons on Monday as he debates how drastically security should be stepped up in the wake of the fatal attack on the Southend MP in his constituency surgery.

On Sunday night, the Amess family called for public unity, urging people to “put aside their differences and show kindness and love to all.” In a statement, his family members said they were “absolutely devastated” but had been strengthened by the tributes paid to him from across the political spectrum.

The attack sent shockwaves through Westminster and reopened questions about the safety of MPs five years after Jo Cox’s murder of Labor. Interior Secretary Priti Patel said Sunday that she was considering offering law enforcement protection to MPs in their surgeries, and that the use of airport-style scanners was being considered.

When asked how quickly such measures could be implemented, Patel told Sky News that all local police forces were contacting all MPs. “It’s not about waiting two weeks, three weeks, four weeks. These are immediate changes and measures that are actively being implemented, and it starts with MPs. “

However, several MPs told The Guardian they were concerned that the presence of the police would deter voters from attending surgeries or other public events. Former Brexit Secretary David Davis said: “The people who come to your practice are people who are on the brink of their wits: they have been defrauded by their employer or their doctor or the NHS or the welfare system, and they are on the verge of their wits. often very fragile. They may be put off by a burly police officer at the door. “

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Former shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, who represents Hackney North, said MPs could benefit from access to metal detectors or wands to check voters, or plastic screens, but “if you put the officers Police out of our constituency, advising on surgeries makes us look like state agents, and in Hackney that’s not looking good. “

A senior conservative noted that resources would have to go to the most threatened MPs, but it is unlikely that Amess was identified as an obvious target.

Others said that the security measures put in place in the wake of Cox’s murder had only been partially implemented, in some cases due to a lack of law enforcement resources. Several told The Guardian that they did not have the only point of contact in their local force that should be at the heart of the system.

Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “It is right that we look at a variety of options, to make sure we strike the right balance between keeping MPs safe while they do their jobs, giving them confidence in the support available and protect the unique nature of British democracy. “

A spokesperson for the parliamentary authorities, who oversee the security of parliamentarians in cooperation with the police, said: “It is essential that we learn from this tragic event, identify additional security requirements and continue to encourage parliamentarians to take the existing measures available. . to them “.

A 25-year-old man, Ali Harbi Ali, a British national, was still being questioned at a London police station on Sunday in an investigation led by Met counter-terrorism agents. He was arrested on suspicion of murder on Friday after being detained by officers at the crime scene in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

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Police can hold Ali in custody until Friday before deciding whether to charge him, under the powers granted by terrorism laws. The murder was assessed as linked to an Islamist ideology due to developments in the investigation after the arrest, the sources told The Guardian.

Police in front of a house in North London are believed to be related to the suspect
Police outside a house in North London are believed to be related to the suspect. Photograph: James Manning / PA

A house in Kentish Town, north London, where Ali and his family are believed to have lived, was still being searched by police on Sunday. Counterterrorism police have searched two other addresses in the London area.

The suspect was previously known for the Prevent scheme, the government’s program to stop radicalization, but his involvement was short-lived, according to multiple sources. It did not appear on any current MI5 watch list, the sources added.

Ali’s father, Harbi Ali Kullane, was an adviser to the Prime Minister of Somalia and now lives in the UK. He told reporters on Saturday that he was “very traumatized” by the violent incident.

Sources close to the investigation indicated Sunday that Ali had booked an appointment to see Amess for his surgery on Friday. Details of the surgery had been announced on social media and elsewhere in advance.

The Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, has broken the parliamentary calendar to allow deputies to spend much of Monday afternoon paying tribute to Amess, after a minute of silence at 2.30pm. Johnson will lead a special debate where MPs will be able to share their memories of the Essex MP, who was first elected in 1983.

Several, including Hoyle, have already made it clear that they believe the best tribute to him would be to fulfill his wish for Southend to become a city, a hope echoed by the Amess family in their statement Sunday. “David was working hard for Southend to earn city status. In his memory, show your support for this campaign, ”they said.

In addition to strengthening physical security around MPs, Patel suggested that the government was looking for ways to ensure that social media companies do their part to address what she called the “corrosive” state of online debate.

“We can’t just apply a binary approach, but there is something very, very corrosive,” he said. “We know that social media platforms advocate for all kinds of things that are harmful to all aspects of society,” Patel said, adding that it was important to “really close that corrosive space where we just see terrible behavior.”

The government’s online security bill is being scrutinized by parliamentarians and they have called for it to be toughened. Labor would like social media executives to take personal responsibility if their companies fail to abide by the law’s codes of practice.

The Amess family paid tribute to his strength and courage in his statement. “He was a patriot and a man of peace. That is why we ask people to put aside their differences and show kindness and love to everyone. This is the only way forward. Put aside hatred and work towards unity. Whatever one’s race, religious or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand. “

They added: “As a family, we are trying to understand why this horrible thing has happened. No one should die that way. Nobody. Please let something good come out of this tragedy. We are absolutely heartbroken, but we will survive and move on for the sake of a wonderful and inspiring man. “

On Sunday, the state of Qatar issued a statement condemning the attack on Amess, who was chairman of the all-party British-Qatari Parliamentary Group, calling his stabbing “a horrible crime and a clear violation of human rights.” . Amess had visited the nation last week.


www.theguardian.com

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