Tributes have poured in for Sir David Amess after his death following a stabbing this afternoon.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sir David Amess was “one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics”.
In a statement, Essex Police said: “A man has been arrested on suspicion murder after a man was stabbed in Leigh-on-Sea.
“We were called to an address in Eastwood Road North shortly after 12.05pm today (Friday 15 October). We attended and found a man injured. He was treated by emergency services but, sadly, died at the scene.
“A 25 year-old man was quickly arrested after officers arrived at the scene on suspicion of murder and a knife was recovered. He is currently in custody. We are not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident.”
Reaction to the news of the death of Sir David Amess
Last updated: Friday, 15 October, 2021, 17:55
‘A lovely man’
Judith Canham, deputy chair of the local Conservative club, said Sir David was a “true constituency MP” and a “friend to everyone”.
“I just can’t believe it, how anybody could harm a kind man like David I don’t know,” she said.
“Words can’t say, he’s such a lovely man who is liked across the parties… he gets on with everybody.
“I cannot understand how anybody could be so wicked and cruel to hurt this kind man.
“He is a true constituency MP. If there has been anything going on in the town, functions… anything really that he’s been invited to, he’s always turned up to give his support.
“He’s a friend to everyone, he has his strong opinions… (but) he’s got a photographic memory and seems to remember everyone and took an interest in everybody.
“I’m terribly in shock. I burst into tears as soon as I heard because we do love him dearly.
“Nobody’s perfect in life but he’s as near perfect as a constituency member of Parliament. I’m just praying… we need him and the country needs him.”
Nicola Sturgeon expresses ‘shock'
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Elected representatives from across the political spectrum will be united in sadness and shock today.
“In a democracy, politicians must be accessible and open to scrutiny, but no-one deserves to have their life taken while working for and representing their constituents.”
‘A great man’ - Sajid Javid
Health Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: “Devastated to learn of Sir David Amess’ murder. A great man, a great friend, and a great MP killed while fulfilling his democratic role.
“My heart goes out to Julia, his family, and all who loved him. Let us remember him and what he did with his life.”
More tributes from colleagues and friends
More tributes continue to flood in for Sir David Amess.
Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps described Sir David Amess as “a true parliamentarian”.
He tweeted: “Awful, tragic news about David.”
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis described Sir David Amess as “one of life’s truly nice people”.
Communities Secretary Michael Gove tweeted: “David Amess’s passing is heart-breakingly sad. Just terrible, terrible news.”
‘Heartbroken’ - more reaction to the news
Flags have been lowered to half mast outside Parliament following the death of Sir David Amess, as tributes continue to pour in.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab tweeted: “Heartbroken that we have lost Sir David Amess MP.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak tweeted: “The worst aspect of violence is its inhumanity. It steals joy from the world and can take from us that which we love the most.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted: “Devastated to hear the terrible news about Sir David Amess MP.”
Former Conservative prime minister David Cameron tweeted: “This is the most devastating, horrific & tragic news.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: “I am so deeply, deeply saddened by the tragic news that Sir David has passed away.”
The issue of MPs’ safety
The tragic death of Sir David Amess today has already prompted a renewed debate over the safety of our elected representatives.
While there is heavy security at the Houses of Parliament, when MPs carry out their constituency duties they are much more vulnerable.
Following the killing of MP Jo Cox in 2016, all parliamentarians were offered enhanced security measures, such as panic buttons, extra lighting, additional locks and emergency fobs.
But now there will be questions over whether that is enough, and how MPs can continue to carry out their important work in constituencies in a safe and secure way.
Brendan Cox, the widower of Jo Cox, posted the following tribute earlier:
‘Horrified’ - more tributes to David Amess
An MP for 38 years
Sir David was a Member of Parliament since 1983, first representing the area of Basildon and later Southend West since 1997.
He was a vocal Eurosceptic and supported Brexit in the EU referendum in 2016 and a supporter of the pro-Brexit campaign, Leave Means Leave, signing a letter to the Prime Minister in 2017.
During his career, he sponsored many Bills including the Abortion (Amendment) Bill (1996-7), the Protection Against Cruel Tethering Act (1988) and the Warm Homes Bill, which passed into law in December 2000 as the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act.
His main interests and areas of expertise included animal welfare and pro-life issues.
He consistently voted to ban fox hunting and hare coursing, and was a patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation.
Sir David had also given his support to many campaigns, including banning cages for game birds, puppy farming and smuggling, and ending the transport of live animals for export.
Since entering the House of Commons, he also generally opposed Bills furthering LGBT rights, including equal age of consent and same-sex marriage.
He is survived by his wife Julia and five children. One of his daughters, Katie Amess, is an actress who has starred in Captain America
Sir David Amess questioned PM on knife crime in February
Sir David Amess stood in the Commons to raise the issue of knife crime with the Prime Minister after a promising young boxer was stabbed in his constituency.
Luke Bellfield, 18, was stabbed in the heart in the same town as Sir David lost his life today, Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. The 18-year-old died in hospital back in February.
Addressing the issue in the House of Commons, Sir David said: "Last Friday, my constituent Mr Luke Bellfield, who was aged just 18, was stabbed to death just a few miles from his family home.
"This has been horrendous for his family and friends who have been left behind, and my heart goes out to them all.
"What more does my Right Honourable Friend think that the police, society and Parliament can do to make sure that there never will in the future be such senseless murders again?"
Boris Johnson said he "very much sympathised" with Luke’s family, adding: "There is nothing I can say to alleviate their loss.
"But what we are doing, Mr Speaker, is recruiting many more police officers to fight crime, rolling up the county lines drug gangs wherever we can and setting out plans to keep serious sexual and violent offenders behind bars for longer.
"I can tell the House that we’ve now got 6,620 of our target extra 20,000 police already recruited."
Archbishop of Canterbury on a ‘deep blow’ to UK and democracy
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the death of Sir David is “a deep blow” to the UK and democracy.
“The death of a father, husband and friend is agonisingly painful for those who loved him,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter.
“The murder of an MP, in the course of caring for their constituents, is a deep blow to this country, its citizens and everyone who desires a peaceful and flourishing democracy.
“Sir David Amess dedicated his life to championing causes he believed in, serving constituents and his country for almost forty years as a Member of Parliament.
“The only antidote to violence and hatred is love and unity. In this horrific and tragic moment we must come together, across political difference, and be the light that refuses to be cowed by darkness.”