Leigh-on-Sea, England – Leaders across the political spectrum came together on Saturday to pay tribute to a long-serving British MP who was gunned down by police in a terrorist-related attack.

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His death has reopened questions about the safety of lawmakers as they go about their work.

The killing of David Ames, a 69-year-old Conservative member of parliament during a routine meeting with local voters, has caused shock and concern across the UK political spectrum after Labor MLA Joe Cox was murdered by a far-right extremist Was. in your small town constituency.

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The British Home Secretary said, “He was killed doing a job he loves, serving his own constituents as an elected democratic member and, of course, this act is absolutely wrong, and we will do it in our own hands.” Can’t let working democracy come in the way.” Priti Patel said she joined Prime Minister Boris Johnson among others to pay tribute to AIIMS at the church where he died.

Patel said she has already called meetings with the Speaker of the House of Commons, police departments and the UK Security Services to ensure that all measures are being taken to protect MPs so that they can perform their duties by being elected. be able to follow Democratic member.”

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On Saturday morning, in an echo of the political unity that emerged in the immediate aftermath of Cox’s assassination, the Conservative’s Johnson, the leader of the opposition Labor Party, Keir Starmer, and the nonpartisan speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle, arrived at the church where Ames died. Went and laid flowers.

Eames was attacked around Friday afternoon during a weekly constituency meeting at a church in Leigh-on-Sea, 40 miles (62 km) east of London.

He was stabbed several times with a knife. Paramedics tried to save him without success. Police have arrested a 25-year-old British man on charges of assault.

The Metropolitan Police described the attack as terrorism and said its initial investigation “revealed a possible motivation linked to Islamic extremism”. It did not provide any details about the basis of that assessment. As part of the investigation, the officers were searching two places in the London area.

Ames died while doing an important part of his job – helping residents in his seaside constituency of Southend West. Under Britain’s parliamentary system, MPs have a direct relationship with their local voters, often hosting open meetings or “surgeries” to voice their concerns.

Meetings often take place in local facilities such as churches and community halls, and are publicly advertised. AIIMS himself posted online where he will be hosting his surgery on Friday.

Clifford Newman at Belfairs Methodist Church said, “He wanted to use the church because he wanted to be where the people were.”

“And if you come into an area that’s in an area like Belfair, somewhere as opposed to an ivory tower, people are likely to feel easier, freer, and more likely to open up to that,” he said.

At the meetings, topics raised can range from national matters such as the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic to more mundane issues such as requests for speed barriers on busy roads or disputes over a neighbor’s fence.

While members of parliament do not necessarily have the power to fix the problems brought before them, they can use their access to pressure officials at national and local levels to get things done.

“I feel like I’ve lost a family member. I think he was Southend’s family, he was Southend’s leader,” said 69-year-old Erica Keane. “And he was everywhere! He was on the football pitches, he was in the choir, he was in the pub, he was everywhere and he was Southend.”

Ames was clearly a popular parliamentarian, winning 10 out of 10 elections since being elected to Parliament for the first time in 1983.

Although he never served as a government minister and had a reputation for being a social conservative on issues such as the death penalty and abortion, he was considered a fixer, a lawmaker who was able to form coalitions across political divisions.

Friday’s killing has rekindled concerns about the risks politicians pose to their job of representing voters. British politicians are generally not given police protection when they meet with their constituents – in contrast to the higher security measures in Parliament.

But the vitriol directed towards him has clearly increased in recent years, with many blaming the more polarized environment on social media and the political divisions caused by Britain’s recent departure from the European Union.

Labor MP Tanmanjit Dhesi said, “As members of parliament we want to be accessible and accessible, but lately there has been more and more violent abuse.”

Tobias Ellwood, a prominent Conservative legislator who gave first aid to a police officer who was stabbed at the gates of parliament in 2017, is one who is already voicing the need for change.

He said that till the security review initiated by Patel, face-to-face meetings with voters along with online interactions should be put on hold temporarily.

Veteran Labor MP Harriet Harman also said she planned to write a letter to the prime minister asking her to support a conference to review lawmakers’ protections.

Hermann told BBC radio: “I don’t think anyone wants to go into a situation where the police are investigating different components of what is coming and seeing us, but I sure do go about our business.” a safe way.”

Under a so-called Speaker’s Conference, the Speaker brings together political parties and officials to come up with non-partisan recommendations. They happen rarely, about once every 10 years.

“Since the tragic murder of Joe Cox, we’ve made changes to our home security, we’ve made security changes in Parliament, but we haven’t addressed the issue of how we go about that important business in our constituency. But let’s do it safely,” Hermann said. “I think we should do that now.”

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Pilas contributed from London. Joe Kearney at Leigh-on-Sea also contributed to this report.