LEIGH-ON-SEA, ENGLAND —
A protracted-serving member of Parliament was stabbed to loss of life Friday throughout a gathering with constituents at a church in England, in what police stated was a terrorist incident. A 25-year-old man was arrested in reference to the assault, which united Britain’s fractious politicians in shock and sorrow.
Counterterrorism officers have been main the investigation into the slaying of Conservative lawmaker David Amess. In a press release early Saturday, the Metropolitan Police described the assault as terrorism and stated the early investigation “has revealed a possible motivation linked to Islamist extremism.”
Amess, 69, was attacked round noon Friday at a Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea, a city about 40 miles (62 kilometers) east of London. Paramedics tried with out success to save lots of him. Police arrested the suspect and recovered a knife.
They didn’t establish the suspect, who was held on suspicion of homicide. Police stated they believed the suspect acted alone, and weren’t searching for anybody else in reference to the killing, although investigations proceed.
The slaying got here 5 years after one other MP, Jo Cox, was murdered by a far-right extremist in her small-town constituency, and it renewed concern concerning the dangers politicians run as they go about their work representing voters. British politicians typically usually are not given police safety once they meet with their constituents.
Tributes poured in for Amess from throughout the political spectrum, in addition to from the neighborhood he had served for many years. Residents paid tribute to him at a vigil at a church in Leigh-on-Sea.
“He carried that nice East London spirit of getting no worry and with the ability to speak to folks and the extent they’re at,” the Rev. Jeffrey Woolnaugh stated on the vigil, attended by about 80 folks. “Not all politicians, I might say, are good at that.”
Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated he and his Cupboard have been “deeply shocked and heart-stricken.”
“David was a person who believed passionately on this nation and in its future, and we have misplaced as we speak a nice public servant and a much-loved pal and colleague,” Johnson stated.
The prime minister wouldn’t say whether or not the assault meant politicians wanted tighter safety, saying, “We should actually go away the police to get on with their investigation.”
Amess had been a member of Parliament for Southend West, which incorporates Leigh-on-Sea, since 1997, and had been a lawmaker since 1983, making him one of many longest-serving politicians within the Home of Commons.
A social conservative on the suitable of his get together, he was a popular determine with a popularity for working laborious for his constituents and campaigning ceaselessly to have Southend declared a metropolis.
Amess, who leaves a spouse and 5 youngsters, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2015 for his service, changing into Sir David.
Flags at Parliament have been lowered to half-staff amid a profusion of questions on lawmakers’ safety.
“That is an incident that may ship shockwaves throughout the parliamentary neighborhood and the entire nation,” Home of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle stated. “Within the coming days we might want to talk about and look at MPs’ safety and any measures to be taken, however for now, our ideas and prayers are with David’s household, mates and colleagues.”
Violence in opposition to British politicians is uncommon, however issues have grown concerning the more and more bitter polarization of the nation’s politics.
In 2016, per week earlier than the nation’s divisive Brexit referendum, Cox, a Labour Social gathering lawmaker, was fatally stabbed and shot in northern England. Additionally, a number of folks have been jailed in recent times for threatening lawmakers.
British lawmakers are protected by armed police when they’re inside Parliament, and safety there was tightened after an attacker impressed by the Islamic State group fatally stabbed a police officer on the gates in 2017.
However politicians haven’t any such safety of their constituencies. Amess revealed the occasions and places of his open conferences with constituents on his web site.
Two different British lawmakers have been attacked over the previous 20 years throughout their “surgical procedures,” common conferences the place constituents can current issues and complaints.
Labour legislator Stephen Timms was stabbed within the abdomen in 2010 by a scholar radicalized by on-line sermons from an al-Qaida-linked preacher.
In 2000, Liberal Democrat Nigel Jones and his aide Andrew Pennington have been attacked by a person wielding a sword throughout such a gathering. Pennington was killed and Jones wounded within the assault in Cheltenham, England.
Former Prime Minister Theresa Might, a Conservative, tweeted that Amess’ killing was a “tragic day for our democracy,” and former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair stated he was “shocked and horrified.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish Nationwide Social gathering stated on Twitter: “In a democracy, politicians should be accessible and open to scrutiny, however nobody deserves to have their life taken whereas working for and representing their constituents.”
Kim Leadbeater, Jo Cox’s sister and now a member of Parliament herself, stated it was “horrific” that Amess’ household was experiencing what hers had gone by.
“They’ll take into consideration this each single day for the remainder of their lives,” she stated.
“I discover myself now working as a politician and making an attempt to do good issues for folks, and it is actually necessary you get good folks in public life, however that is the chance we’re all taking, and so many MPs will likely be scared by this.”
Lawless reported from London. Pan Pylas additionally contributed to this report.