Attacks on Members of Parliament considered “likely”

On 20 October 2021 the UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, announced in the House of Commons that the threat level against MPs has been raised to “substantive”, resulting in a review of and potentially stepping up of security measures for them. “Substantive threat level” means that an attack is considered “likely” by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre. This is the most recent development in a seemingly ongoing escalation of the aggressive tone in political debates and follows the recent fatal stabbing of Conservative MP David Amess in his constituency.

The murder of Amess is not the first killing of an MP. In 2016, just before the Brexit referendum, the Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a rightwing terrorist.

Overall, it can be said that over the last few years life has become more dangerous for members of Parliament. They receive (online and offline) abuse and (death) threats. Particularly women are also victims of rape threats with abuse being reported as “virtually constant” already in 2019.  The origin of this situation is traced back by many to the Brexit referendum and the aggressive language within this context inside and outside of Parliament.

Sources and further Reading:

MPs and civil servants talk about their experiences of living with the pressure and stress (like worrying about their families’ safety) brought about by the Brexit debates:

And here is an examples of the kind of “aggressive behaviour” going on in Parliament:

Labour MP Jo Cox’ Murder:

Abuse and aggression toward MPs:

David Amess’s fatal stabbing:

Female MPs and abuse:

See also this London School of Economics’ 2019 analysis of Johnson’s war metaphors:


Zum Seitenanfang