Sir David Amess, a veteran Conservative MP, was killed on Friday after being stabbed multiple times at a meeting in his Essex constituency.
The 69-year-old, who served as a Tory MP for almost four decades and represented the Southend West seat since 1997, was hosting a surgery at the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea when a man entered the building and stabbed him several times.
Essex police said a 25-year-old man had been arrested “on suspicion of murder” after the stabbing, and a knife had been recovered.
The attack on Amess raised fresh concerns about the safety and security of MPs. He is the second parliamentarian to be killed in just over five years, following the stabbing of Labour’s Jo Cox in 2016. Stephen Timms, another Labour MP, was stabbed at a constituency meeting in 2010.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, praised Amess as a man devoted to his constituency and said the incident would “send shockwaves across the parliamentary community and the whole country”.
“In the coming days we will need to discuss and examine MPs’ security and any measures to be taken, but for now, our thoughts and prayers are with David’s family, friends and colleagues.”
Amess was a passionate champion for Southend-on-Sea, a large coastal town in Essex, and frequently called for it to be granted city status. He was a pro-Brexit campaigner, a member of the Leave Means Leave pressure group and an advocate for animal welfare.
Always serving on the backbenches, his re-election bids in the 1980s and 1990s were symbolic of Margaret Thatcher’s “Essex Man”. Amess was a practising Catholic and advocated socially conservative values.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hosting a cabinet meeting in South West England, returned to Downing Street on Friday afternoon following the death of Amess.
Tributes were made across the political spectrum. Nadhim Zahawi, education secretary, said: “Rest In Peace Sir David. You were a champion for animal welfare, the less fortunate, and the people of Southend West. You will be missed by many.”
Michael Gove, the cabinet minister in charge of levelling up, said Amess’s death was “heartbreakingly sad”, adding that “he was a good and gentle man, he showed charity and compassion to all, his every word and act were marked by kindness. My heart goes out to his family.”
Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer described Amess’s killing as “horrific and deeply shocking”.
Jacqui Smith, the former Labour MP and chair of the Jo Cox Foundation, said: “This is a tragic loss for those who knew and loved Sir David . . . I knew him as a generous and dedicated colleague in parliament. Public life must be safe for those we ask to serve in our democracy.”