Berwick MP subjected to threats and online abuse but ‘vital link’ with constituents must continue
Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has spoken of the threats and online abuse she has received in the course of her work.
The international trade secretary was speaking just days after the murder of Southend West MP Sir David Amess at a constituency surgery last Friday.
"The online trolling that I’ve had, I’ve had a certain amount, I’ve had to have someone arrested who was threatening to burn down my house when my children were in it,” she told LBC Radio.
“These things are ghastly and entirely wrong, and our police forces work incredibly hard to support us as parliamentarians and to protect our families, but we are going to keep looking at that.”
She did not provide further details as to when the threat occurred or the outcome of the arrest.
Despite being shaken by the death of her fellow MP, Ms Trevelyan has stressed the importance of meeting with constituents.
“The death of my colleague Sir David Amess, and in particular the brutal and shocking manner of his death, has shaken all parliamentarians,” she said.
"Meeting constituents, holding surgeries to listen to them and try to help them with their problems is one of the most fundamental aspects of an MP’s work.
"It's the part that doesn’t attract much outside interest or fanfare, but can have the most impact on people’s lives, and one of the aspects we treasure the most.
"That constituency link is so important, not just to me personally, but to the way our democracy functions. It is part of the reason I could never support a move to a proportional representation system of electing parliamentarians, as you would lose that local link.”
She revealed that one of the first things she did after being made trade secretary was to explain to her new private office why constituency Fridays were so vital to her.
"Being connected to the communities we represent is what our entire system is founded on,” she explained.
“It is important that our constituents know we are there for them, understand the issues that they face and can then take those issues to Westminster.
"Just the other week, when news of the Newcastle United takeover broke, I knew instantly what it meant for local fans, because they physically saw me in the street that morning and came up to me to tell me.
“That is not to say there are not risks and threats, something we have been reminded of in recent days. I think most members of the public would be quite shocked at the volume and nature of some of the threats received by MPs, especially women MPs.
"I certainly think there are ways in which security can be improved, and I know support received can be patchy across the country, but I am confident that the vital link between MPs and the people they represent can be maintained.
"It must be, for it is the foundation of our democracy and we do not stand against those determined to destroy our values by eroding those principles we most hold dear.”
Hexham MP Guy Opperman believes there are security issues to be investigated, but added: "David would’ve expected nothing less than democracy to prevail from this horrific incident. That’s why the job must go on.”