A member of parliament was stabbed to death on Friday during a meeting with constituents at a church in England, an attack that united Britain’s corrupt politicians in shock and grief. A 25-year-old youth was arrested from the spot.
Police did not immediately provide details about the motive for the murder of 69-year-old Conservative MP David Ames and did not identify the suspect arrested on suspicion of murder.
The attack came five years after another legislator, Joe Cox, was murdered in her small-town constituency, and it raised concerns about the risk to her job by politicians representing voters. British politicians are generally not given police protection when they meet with their constituents.
Essex Police said officers were called on information about a stabbing in the seaside town of Lay-on-Sea after noon and arrested a man and recovered a knife.
“We are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident and do not believe there is any danger to the wider public,” police said.
Sky News and other media said the attack was carried out during a routine meeting with constituents at the Methodist Church in a residential section of Leigh-on-Sea, about 40 miles (62 km) east of London. Paramedics worked at the scene without any success to save his life.
Ames was a Member of Parliament for Southend West, which includes Leigh-on-Sea since 1997, and a legislator since 1983, making him one of the longest-serving politicians in the House of Commons.
A traditional conservative on the right of his party, he was a well-known figure with a reputation for working hard for his constituents and was known for his relentless campaign to declare Southend a city.
He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015 for his service as Sir David.
Politicians across the political spectrum expressed shock and grief over the death of AIIMS which left behind a wife and five children. The flags were halved in Parliament in London.
House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said: “This is an incident that will send a wave of shock to the Parliamentary community and to the nation as a whole.” “In the coming days we will need to discuss and investigate the safety of lawmakers and any measures taken, but for now, our thoughts and prayers are with David’s family, friends and colleagues.”
Violence against British politicians is rare, but concerns have risen in recent years about the increasingly bitter polarization of the country’s politics.
In 2016, a week before the country’s divisive Brexit referendum, Labor MP Cox was stabbed and shot in his North England constituency. A far-right extremist was convicted of his murder.
Cox’s widower, Brendan Cox, tweeted on Friday: “Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself. No excuse, no justification. This is as funky as it gets. “
British lawmakers are protected by armed police when they are inside parliament, and security there was tightened after an attacker inspired by the Islamic State group fatally stabbed a police officer at the gate in 2017.
But politicians have no such protection in their constituencies. AIIMS publishes the times and locations of its open meetings with constituents on its website.
Two other British MPs have been attacked over the past two decades during their “surgery”, regular meetings where constituents can present concerns and complaints.
Labor legislator Stephen Timms was stabbed in the stomach in 2010 by a female student radicalized by an al-Qaeda-linked preacher’s online sermons.
In 2000, Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones and his colleague Andrew Pennington were attacked by a man wielding a sword during one such meeting. Pennington was killed and Jones was injured in the attack in Cheltenham, England.
After Friday’s assassination, Conservative MP Tracy Crouch tweeted: “Heartbroken. How Sir David was one of the kindest, most compassionate, likable colleagues in Parliament I could write on. But I can’t. I’m feeling sick. I’m lost.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party tweeted: “Elected representatives from across the political spectrum will unite in grief and shock today. In a democracy, politicians should be accessible and open to scrutiny, but no one deserves to take their own life to work for and represent their constituents. “
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s wife, Carrie Johnson, wrote on Twitter that the news was “absolutely devastating”.
“He was extremely kind and nice. A huge animal lover and a true gentleman,” she said. “It is completely unjust.”