A Conservative MP died after being stabbed during a routine public surgery meeting with constituents.
Sir David Ames, MP for Southend West in Essex, suffered multiple injuries in an attack on the Belfair Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea.
Essex Police said a suspect had been arrested on suspicion of murder, as a tribute to the “extremely kind and good” MP, one of the longest-serving MPs in Parliament.
The Prime Minister called him “one of the kindest, nicest, gentlest men in politics” and praised “nearly 40 years of uninterrupted service to the people of Essex and the whole of the United Kingdom”.
Counter-terrorism police are involved in a preliminary investigation into the stabbing and are working to establish a possible motivation.
There is no confirmation yet whether the incident is believed to be related to terrorism.
The father of five is the second sitting MP to be killed in five years, following the 2016 attack on Labor MP Joe Cox.
He was assassinated by a neo-Nazi outside a constituency surgery in Burstall, West Yorkshire.
His widower, Brendan Cox, wrote on Twitter: “My thoughts and love are with David’s family. That’s all they matter now. This brings everything back.
“The pain, the loss, but also how much love the public gave us after the loss of Joe. I hope we can do the same for David now.”
Mr Cox said attacking lawmakers was an “attack on democracy itself”, adding: “There is no excuse, no justification. This is as cowardly as it gets.”
Police were called to the scene soon after Friday afternoon and said the surrounding roads had been sealed off.
An Essex Police spokesman said: “We were called to an address on Eastwood Road North just after 12.05pm on Friday to report that Sir David, 69, had been stabbed.
“Despite the best efforts of paramedics, sadly he died on the spot. A 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder and is currently in custody.
“We have recovered a knife from the scene and are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.”
Investigators were urging anyone who had seen anything or had CCTV, dash cam or doorbell footage to come forward.
A witness described the incident as “very disturbing” and described someone being taken out of the church and put in the back of a police car, before being asked to leave the area.
“Obviously at the time we knew something serious had happened,” he told LBC radio.
“Within five minutes we were informed by someone who was actually in the building and apparently he (Sir David) had been stabbed several times. It’s very painful.”
Sir David had advertised the surgery, which is a regular opportunity for constituents to air their views and seek assistance, on his Twitter page on Tuesday, giving the location and contact details to book an appointment.
In a book published last year, Eyes and Ears: A Survivor’s Guide to Westminster, Sir David considered the impact of the killing of Ms Cox and other MPs.
Sir David wrote, “We all make ourselves readily available to our constituents and often deal with members of the public who have mental health problems, this can happen to any of us.”
He said the increased security concerns prompted MPs to change the way they interacted with the public, and that constituency surgery influenced the “great British tradition of people meeting their elected politicians openly”. .
Sir David said he has experienced “nuisance” from people visiting his home in the past, and has received frequent abuse on social media.
He called for the law to be changed so that those making derogatory remarks could be identified, saying he was disappointed that “these ignorant cowards are allowed to get away with appalling behaviour”.
Tributes poured in from across the political spectrum on Friday for Sir David, the longest serving parliamentarian.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said that the people of Southend have been imbued with endless passion, energy and integrity.
“It represents a senseless attack on democracy itself,” he said. “The right questions are being asked about the security of our country’s elected representatives and I will provide updates in due course.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron wrote on Twitter: “David Ames was a kind and utterly decent man – and the most committed parliamentarian you could ever hope to meet. To put into words the horror of what has happened today Can’t be told.”
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer called it a “dark and shocking day” and praised Sir David’s public service.
“The whole country will feel it intensely, probably because we are already heartbroken,” he said.
“Let us come together in response to these horrific events. We will show once again that violence, intimidation and threats to our democracy will never work on the relentless commitment of public servants. “
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was “deeply saddened” and added: “He loved being a parliamentarian and he was a great public servant. It’s just horrifying. My thoughts and prayers and that of all Londoners at this unimaginable grief.” With David’s loved ones.”
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said it was “a truly terrible day for British politics, but our most important prayers are with all those who love David”.
Sir David was first elected to Parliament in 1983 to represent Basildon, and then stood for election in Southend West in 1997.
He was the chairman of the all-party parliamentary British-Qatar group, and recently met with the country’s emir in Doha.
On his website, he listed his main interests as “animal welfare and pro-life issues”. Sir David is survived by his wife and five children.
Essex Police said anyone citing Incident 445 of 15 October should contact the force.
PA. Additional reporting by
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /