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Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle urges MPs to ‘treat each other better’ after Tory stands down over safety fears

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Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle urges MPs to ‘treat each other better’ after Tory stands down over safety fears

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The Speaker of the House of Commons has urged MPs to “treat each other in a much better way” after a long-standing MP said he was standing down over fears for his safety.

Speaking to Sky News, Sir Lindsay Hoyle blamed the sense of “election frenzy” for the coarsening of language in parliament” as he called for MPs to engage in a “nicer politics”.

Sir Lindsay said politicians have got to work “very closely” to “defend democracy” and “ensure the people who don’t share our values who will never be successful”, citing the murders of Jo Cox and Sir David Amess as tragic events that “bring parliament together, united that we will never give in to terrorism, nor will we give in to threats”.

Sir Lindsay was speaking in light of MP Mike Freer’s decision to stand down from politics at the next election owing to threats he had received – including an arson attack on his constituency office in December.

Mr Freer, a veteran Tory minister and the MP for Finchley and Golders Green, made the announcement after he avoided being murdered “by the skin of my teeth”.

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The justice minister, has faced a series of death threats and had been targeted by Ali Harbi Ali – the man who stabbed Southend West MP Sir David to death in 2021.

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He said the “final straw” was the arson attack. “There comes a point when the threats to your personal safety become too much,” he told the Daily Mail.

Sir Lindsay said that while he was “disappointed” when people felt they could not stand for election because of threats they have faced, he understood Mr Freer’s fear and that of his partner and parliamentary staff.

Asked if MPs should have security details, he did not expand but said all measures were kept under review and that parliament works “very closely with all the police forces around the country”.

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At the start of PMQs yesterday, Sir Lindsay criticised “unhelpful exchanges” across the despatch box, as well as language that has “fallen short of the standard and good temper and moderation that should characterise the proceedings of this House”.

He told Sky’s Wilfred Frost he made his statement to “try and turn down the heat of what’s happening each Wednesday”.

“We seem to be driven by the belief the election’s coming tomorrow – but whether it’s tomorrow or whether it’s November, whenever it be, that is a long period,” he said.

“People reflect how we treat each other – and that’s why I want us to have a nicer politics within the House.

“That’s why I made that statement yesterday – to try and turn down the heat of what’s happening each Wednesday – because in the end, don’t be shocked if people react in the way that we react to each other. “

Mr Freer said he and his staff have started wearing stab vests at scheduled public events in his constituency after learning that Ali had watched his Finchley office before killing Sir David at a constituency surgery.

“I was very lucky that actually on the day [of Ali’s attempted attack] I was due to be in Finchley, I happened to change my plans and came into Whitehall,” he said.

“Otherwise who knows whether I would have been attacked or survived an attack. He said he came to Finchley to attack me.”

The MP, who has pro-Israel views and represents a heavily Jewish constituency, said “I don’t think we can divorce” antisemitism from the intimidation.

Mr Freer has represented the seat since 2010 after seeing off challenges from both the Liberal Democrats and Labour.

He joins a series of MPs who have said they will be stepping down at the next election, which is expected later this year.

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