UK leaders lay wreaths outside church where David Amess attacked

Man (25) arrested as UK police declare fatal stabbing of Tory MP a terrorist incident

British prime minister Boris Johnson, accompanied by leader of the opposition Keir Starmer, has visited a church in Leigh-on-Sea, where Conservative MP David Amess (69) was stabbed to death a day earlier. Video: Reuters

 

British prime minister Boris Johnson on Saturday laid flowers outside the church where a Conservative MP was fatally stabbed in what police said was a terrorist attack probably linked to Islamist extremism.

David Amess (69) was knifed repeatedly at about midday on Friday in Leigh-on-Sea, east of London, during a meeting with constituents.

The attack has been declared a terrorist incident, UK Metropolitan Police confirmed. Police arrested a British man (25) at the scene on suspicion of murder, adding it is believed he acted alone.

Mr Johnson, interior minister Priti Patel, and Labour Party leader Keir Starmer were among those to lay flowers in tribute to Mr Amess at the scene of the murder.

“To the memory of Sir David Amess MP, a fine parliamentarian and a much-loved colleague and friend,” Mr Johnson said in a hand-written note placed in the flowers, adding in a Twitter post that his thoughts were with Mr Amess’s family and friends.

Mr Johnson and Mr Starmer stood side by side in a moment of silence before leaving. Other politicians, police representatives and members of the public came to lay flowers and pay respects.

Mr Amess, who had been an MP since 1983, was attacked while meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea near Southend at midday on Friday.

The early investigation has revealed “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism”, police said.

Official sources said the man arrested, who is being held at an Essex police station, is believed to be a British national with Somali heritage.

Police are searching two addresses in the London area.

British home secretary Priti Patel has asked all police forces to review security arrangements for MPs “with immediate effect” following the attack.

The Daily Telegraph said the review would examine Operation Bridger, a nationwide police protective security operation established in 2016 after several threats to MPs following parliamentary debates on Syria.

Ms Patel will make a statement to parliament on the review on Monday, the Times reported.

Chief constable of Essex Police Ben-Julian Harrington said Mr Amess was “simply dispensing his duties when his life was horrifically cut short”.

Tory veteran Mr Amess, who was described by British prime minister Boris Johnson as “one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics”, had been an MP since 1983 and was married with five children.

The attack on Mr Amess came just 5½ years after Labour MP Jo Cox was killed by a far-right extremist in her Batley and Spen constituency in West Yorkshire.

The Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said police were contacting all MPs to check on their security in the wake of Mr Amess’s killing.

“It is about doing the right things working with the police constabularies right across the United Kingdom because it is about joining that up,” Mr Hoyle told BBC2’s Newsnight.

“I know that they are contacting all the MPs to check about their safety, to reassure them, because in the end we have got to make sure that is a priority.”

He added: “Those people who do not share our values or share democracy, they will not win and we won’t let them win. We will continue to look at security, that is ongoing and it will continue.”

Mr Hoyle said earlier that although it was right that security was reviewed following the latest incident, it was important to avoid “knee-jerk” reactions. – Reuters, PA