A minister says he will stand down at the next general election after a series of death threats and an arson attack on his constituency office. Mike Freer, a justice minister and also north London MP, said he avoided being murdered “by the skin of my teeth” by Ali Harbi Ali, who went on to kill Southend West MP Sir David Amess. Mr Freer has represented Finchley and Golders Green since 2010.
He said he could no longer put his family through the worry of his safety. In a letter to his local Conservative association, Mr Freer wrote it would “be an enormous wrench to step down”, but the attacks had “weighed heavily on me and my husband, Angelo”. He said a fire at his north London constituency office on Christmas Eve had emerged to be an arson attack.
The MP and his staff also decided to wear stab vests when attending public events in his constituency after learning Ali had watched his Finchley office before going on to knife Sir David to death during a constituency surgery in 2021, Mr Freer told the Daily Mail on Thursday.He said MPs generally tried to “make light” of threats, but it remained at the back of his mind that he could have been killed.
Mr Freer, who has pro-Israel views and represents a heavily Jewish constituency, told the paper “I don’t think we can divorce” antisemitism from the intimidation. He won his seat by about 6,600 votes at the 2019 General Election, seeing off a Liberal Democrat challenger.
Mr Freer joins a series of MPs who have announced their intention not to contest the next election, which is expected later this year.
Sarah Sackman, Labour’s candidate for his constituency, said she was shocked by the news, adding: “We should have been able to face each other in the polls based on our ideas and merits. Instead, politics is now so often skewed by violent language, hate and the dangers of social media.”
Tory former minister Sir Conor Burns posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that it was a “totally understandable decision. He added: “The drip drip of hate (not exclusively from people on the other side) and remorseless cynicism will drive more people out of politics.
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