British PM leads tributes to ‘dedicated, passionate’ David Amess

Police holding 25-year-old suspected of stabbing MP to death last week

British prime minister Boris Johnson led the tributes in Parliament to "dedicated, passionate" David Amess, the veteran MP stabbed to death while meeting voters, in an attack that has heightened concern about politicians' safety. Video: Reuters

 

Boris Johnson has led tributes from across the House of Commons to David Amess, the Conservative MP who was stabbed to death during a constituency surgery last Friday. Mr Johnson described Sir David’s killing as a contemptible act of violence but said the manner of his death should not detract from his accomplishments.

“This country needs people like Sir David, this House needs people like Sir David, our politics needs people like Sir David. Dedicated, passionate, firm in his beliefs but never anything less than respectful for those who thought differently,” he said.

“Those are the values he brought to a lifetime of public service. There can be few among us more justified in their faith in the resurrection and the life to come. And while his death leaves a vacuum that will not and can never be filled, we will cherish his memory. We will celebrate his legacy and we will never allow those who commit acts of evil to triumph over the democracy and the parliament that Sir David Amess loved so much.”

‘Kindness and good humour’

The prime minister announced that Sir David’s constituency town of Southend is to become a city, fulfilling an ambition he campaigned for tirelessly. MPs observed a minute’s silence in Sir David’s memory before more than two hours of tributes from members of all parties, many of whom spoke of his kindness and good humour.

Police are holding Ali Harbi Ali (25) under antiterrorism legislation on suspicion of murder and they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the killing. Labour leader Keir Starmer said it was too early to comment on the exact motivations and circumstances behind the fatal stabbing but he said it was an attack on the country and its way of life.

“A way of life that prizes tolerance, democracy and respect. That accepts our differences – but cherishes our commonalities. That refuses to succumb to the poison of extremism. No matter what perverted cause, faith or ideology these attackers support, their intention is always the same – to sow division among us. That is why our response must always be to show we will never be cowed. That our bonds to one another cannot be eroded. That the hatred that took Sir David’s life will never win,” he said.

‘Lone attackers’

Earlier, House speaker Lindsay Hoyle said he would do everything possible to ensure that MPs were safe when they were carrying out constituency duties. Amid speculation that the suspect may have acted alone and been radicalised online, home secretary Priti Patel said that such “lone wolf” attacks were not new.

“Sadly we have seen too many lone attackers in previous years as well,” she said.

“There is a great deal of work taking place and we will continue to discuss, actually, the work across policing, security . . . and probation as well. The work that takes place to prevent these attacks, but also the data and intelligence sharing that is undertaken across our systems, and government, but also various institutions and society. But it is important to recognise we have some of the best intelligence and security agencies in the world.”