Following the brutal murder of Southend MP Sir David Amess, and the likelihood of another attack, Priti Patel has said the threat level against MPs has been upgraded to “substantial.“
The Home Secretary on Wednesday called on her colleagues to take the “change in risk seriously” after a review conducted by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre linked to MI5.
Patel told the Commons that even though there was no “specific or imminent threat,” MPs would be contacted and briefed on possible alterations to their security arrangements.
She said Sir David Amess’ murder at a constituency surgery with his constituents has prompted the counter-terror police to make sure that “change is properly reflected in the operational posture” of MPs security apparatus.
Sir David is the second MP in five years to be killed in not very dissimilar circumstances after Jo Cox was fatally shot and stabbed by an assailant in 2016.
“While we do not see any information or intelligence which points to any credible or specific or imminent threat, I must update the House that the threat level facing Members of Parliament is now deemed to be substantial,” Patel said.
“This is the same level as the current national threat to the United Kingdom as a whole, so I can assure the House that our world-class intelligence and security agencies and counter-terror police will now ensure that this change is properly reflected in the operational posture.”
Despite the vagary surrounding the language – “substantial,” the interpretation, which goes in line with national guidance, means there is a very real possibility of an imminent attack.
It remains unclear what threat level had been operational before, but it is understood that there are only two lower levels: low and moderate.
25-year old Ali Harbi Ali, who was apprehended at the scene in Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea for allegedly killing Sir Amess continues to be remanded in police custody.
Ali is being detained under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000. Detectives are expected to continue questioning him until Friday after a warrant of further detention was granted.