British lawmaker to step down over alleged abuse, death threats for pro-Israel rhetoric

A Conservative lawmaker in Britain said Thursday he will step down when an election is called later this year because of abuse and death threats he says are linked to his support for Israel.

Mike Freer said an arson attack on his office in December was the “final straw.”

He told the BBC that when people go into politics, “we kind of sign up for it, we take it on the chin. … But it’s not fair on our families.”

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Freer represents the London constituency of Finchley and Golders Green, which has a large Jewish population.

Union Jack

The Union Jack is photographed against a partly-cloudy sky. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Freer said he had received death threats from a group called Muslims Against Crusades and began wearing a stab-proof vest after learning his office had been staked out by Ali Harbi Ali, an Islamic State group supporter who stabbed Conservative lawmaker David Amess to death in 2021.

Amess was the second British lawmaker murdered in the past decade. Labour legislator Jo Cox was killed in 2016 by a far-right attacker.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson, Max Blain, said the abuse and threats aimed at Freer were “an attack on British democracy.”

House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle urged lawmakers to set an example and “turn down the heat” of their often-fiery debates.

“People reflect how we treat each other, and that’s why I want us to have a nicer politics within the House,” Hoyle told Sky News.

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A man and a woman appeared in court on Thursday over an arson attack on Freer’s office. They are scheduled to stand trial later this year. Police say they are not treating it as a hate crime.

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