Yorkshire MP Kim Leadbeater says she 'never' holds open surgeries after murder of her sister Jo Cox

Politicians shouldn't have to accept a level of abuse in doing their job, Kim Leadbeater has said, as she revealed she will never see constituents without an appointment.

The Batley and Spen MP, whose sister Jo Cox was murdered as she arrived for a constituency surgery, said she now carries three alarms to safeguard against attack.

The issue around MP safety has been under intense scrutiny since the death of Mrs Cox in 2016, further amplified with the brutal murder of Tory MP Sir David Amess in 2021.

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Now Ms Leadbeater, who represents the seat once held by her sister, said holding open surgeries to which constituents can freely attend was "not the way of doing this job safely".

Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater.Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater.
Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater.

Speaking to GB News, Ms Leadbeater said: "For lots of MPs, things around engagement with the public changed after Jo was killed."Some MPs still do open surgeries. I don't and I never will.

"People in Batley and Spen fully respect and understand that. I think unfortunately, because of what happened to Sir David Amess, other MPs have reviewed it in light of that."

Ms Cox was killed by Thomas Mair, a fanatic with far-right views, after he shot and stabbed her multiple times as she arrived for a constituency surgery in June 2016.

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The murder of the mother-of-two sent shockwaves through Yorkshire's communities, raising further questions over the safety of public figures in the political sphere.

Then in 2021, Sir David, who had been the long-serving MP for Southend West, was stabbed repeatedly by terrorist Ali Harbi Ali, who posed as a constituent during a surgery held in Leigh-on-Sea.

Labour politician Ms Leadbeater won the West Yorkshire seat of Batley and Spen following a by-election in 2021. The 46-year-old said she does meet voters in person to discuss issues but "it's all prearranged". Other correspondence takes place via telephone calls and by email, she explained.

She said: "I kind of get it where some people will say, 'Well I want to be accessible to my public and all the rest of it' - but then look at what can happen. And let's pray that it never happens again.

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"But it's happened twice now, and that for me is enough to know that that is not the way of doing this job safely."

Ms Leadbeater said she is "always out and about in the constituency" but revealed that she carries three alarms to help safeguard against the risk of attack.

She told presenter and former Labour MP Gloria De Piero some of the alarms were linked to the police.

"It is weird that that's now what my life looks like," she told the broadcaster. "But equally, I'd rather have them than not have them, because the last thing I want is for my parents, partner or family and friends to get that phone call that no one should ever have to get."

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In the interview, broadcast yesterday as part of the Gloria Meets series, Ms Leadbeater said MPs had "come to accept" the volume of abuse they receive both in person and online.

She continued: "I think that's a really dangerous place to be in. It shouldn't come with the job. It shouldn't come with any job."