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Amid threats, arson, pro-Israel UK minister won’t seek re-election

"There comes a point when the threats to your personal safety become too much," Mike Freer said.

Mike Freer, a member of the British Parliament who represents a London constituency in which about 20% of voters are Jewish, speaks at a reception at the British residence in New York City in May 2023. Credit: Flickr/UKinUSA via Wikimedia Commons.
Mike Freer, a member of the British Parliament who represents a London constituency in which about 20% of voters are Jewish, speaks at a reception at the British residence in New York City in May 2023. Credit: Flickr/UKinUSA via Wikimedia Commons.

Mike Freer, U.K. minister for courts and legal services, announced his decision to step down at the next general election, citing a series of death threats and an arson attack on his constituency office.

A vocal supporter of Israel, Freer has served as a member of Parliament for Finchley and Golders Green, a London constituency where around 20% of voters are Jews, since 2010. He told JNS recently that he intended to press on despite the intimidation.

The next British general election must be held no later than Jan. 28, 2025.

The Conservative Party politician told the Daily Mail on Thursday that he narrowly escaped a potentially fatal attack by Ali Harbi Ali, the man who later murdered Southend West MP Sir David Amess in 2021.

“There comes a point when the threats to your personal safety become too much,” said Freer, emphasizing that the safety of his family played a pivotal role in his decision to stand down.

Ali considered himself an affiliate of ISIS.

Freer, who is not Jewish, said that his public support for Israel has resulted in him being targeted by antisemitic groups and individuals.

Following Amess’s killing, Freer and his staff adopted precautionary measures, wearing stab vests during scheduled public events in his constituency.

“I was very lucky that on the day I was due to be in Finchley, I happened to change my plans and came into Whitehall. Otherwise, who knows whether I would have been attacked or survived an attack? He said he came to Finchley to attack me,” the parliamentarian said of Ali.

Freer acknowledged receiving violent threats from the extremist group “Muslims Against Crusades.” Additionally, mock Molotov Cocktails were discovered on his office steps.

He described last month’s arson attack on his constituency office as “the final straw.”

An August 2023 poll suggested that the Northwest London seat would likely swing to Labour in the next general election. Freer won the constituency with 43.8% of the votes in 2019. The seat last elected a Labour member of Parliament in 2005.

Jewish Labour Movement vice chair Sarah Sackman has been selected as the party’s candidate for Finchley and Golders Green ahead of the next election.

“Since his election as an MP in 2010, Mike Freer has been one of the Jewish community’s most stalwart supporters in British politics,” stated the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which has advocated for U.K. Jews for nearly 265 years.

“The fact that Mike Freer has decided not to seek nomination again as an MP due in part to the threats and abuse he has received should be widespread cause for concern,” the group added. “We thank Mike for his service as MP for the constituency with the largest Jewish community in the country, and are proud to call him a friend.”

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