UK politics in shock as Conservative MP stabbed to death
LEIGH-ON-SEA, United Kingdom, Oct 15, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - British
lawmaker David Amess was killed on Friday after being stabbed multiple
times, according to police, in the second death of a UK politician
while meeting voters since 2016.
The pro-Brexit Conservative MP, 69, a father-of-five first elected
to parliament in 1983, was attacked inside a church while holding a
fortnightly consultation with his local constituents in Leigh-on-Sea,
east of London.
Essex police said a 25-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion
of murder and a knife was recovered at the scene.
They said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with
Flags were lowered to half-mast outside parliament and tributes
poured in from across the political spectrum for Amess, whose death
came just over five years after the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox by a
In a book last year called "Ayes & Ears: A Survivor's Guide to
Westminster", Amess noted that Cox's death had prompted new security
guidance to MPs which threatened to limit their access to
"I myself have over the years experienced nuisance from the odd
member of the general public at my own property," he wrote.
"These increasing attacks have rather spoilt the great British
tradition of the people openly meeting their elected politicians."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was chairing a meeting with senior
ministers in the west of England but promptly returned to London
following news of the incident.
"The reason I think people are so shocked and saddened is above all
he was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics," he
said of Amess, calling him "a much-loved friend and colleague" and "a
fine public servant".
- Security review -
Former prime minister Theresa May said it was "a tragic day for our
"A decent man and respected parliamentarian, killed in his own
community while carrying out his public duties," she added.
Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer called the news "horrific and
deeply shocking", while House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said
Amess had "built a reputation for kindness" during his long career as
"In the coming days we will need to discuss and examine MPs'
security and any measures to be taken, but for now, our thoughts and
prayers are with David's family, friends and colleagues," Hoyle added.
In January 2000, Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones was wounded and his
assistant killed by a man wielding a ceremonial sword at a
Pro-EU MP Cox was killed in the run-up to the Brexit referendum,
while another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, was stabbed multiple times
during an event in 2010 but recovered and is still a lawmaker.
Timms said he was "appalled" at this latest attack. Cox's widower
Brendan said the stabbing of Amess was "as cowardly as it gets".
"Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy
itself. There is no excuse, no justification," he said.
- Armed response -
Essex police said officers had responded to "reports of a stabbing"
shortly after 12:05 pm (1105 GMT) and arrived to find a man injured.
"He was treated by emergency services but, sadly, died at the
scene," the force said.
Amess, first elected during Margaret Thatcher's tenure and known for
his advocacy of animal welfare and pro-life issues, had advertised his
upcoming surgery at the Belfairs Methodist Church in the small town of
Paul Gardiner, 41, a barber at One Barbers Leigh-On-Sea, told AFP
that "armed police and an ambulance" were swiftly on the scene.
"I saw a policeman with a gun," he said. "It was worrying."
Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith echoed concerns about
the security risk at MPs' local "surgeries".
"When you're not in your office, and you're in a public place...
that means essentially, that the levels of security that sometimes
you're advised to take can't be taken," he tweeted.