Union Jack At Half Mast Over Downing Street As Boris Johnson Leads Tributes To Murdered Tory MP
15:44 GMT 15.10.2021 (Updated: 16:19 GMT 15.10.2021)
The Conservative MP for Southend West, Sir David Amess, has died after being stabbed at a constituency surgery in a church. Sir David had been an MP since 1983.
The Prime Minister has led tributes for a Conservative MP who was murdered in broad daylight as he tended to constituents in Leigh-on-Sea, 30 miles east of London.
Boris Johnson said people's hearts were full of "shock and sadness" following the death of Sir David Amess, 69, and he said: "David was a man who believed in his country and in its future. We have lost a fine public servant."
Sir David had been MP for Southend West in Essex since 1997 and before that had represented nearby Basildon since 1983.
Essex Police arrested a 25-year-old man at the scene on suspicion of murder and recovered a knife.
The Union flag above Downing Street was lowered to half mast when the news emerged that Sir David had passed away.
The attack brought back chilling memories of 2016 when Labour MP Jo Cox was killed shortly before the referendum on leaving the European Union.
Cox and Amess had been on opposite sides of the debate, with the Tory MP a keen supporter of Brexit.
But Cox’s widower, Brendan, said: “Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself. There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets."
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said it was “terrible news” and added: “He was a lovely, lovely man and a superb parliamentarian. My thoughts are with all his family and friends."
The deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, Angela Rayner, who has been criticised on social media for calling the Conservative government “scum” said: “I’m horrified by the reports regarding David Amess and an incident at his constituency surgery today.”
The Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister, Dominic Raab, tweeted: “Heartbroken that we have lost Sir David Amess MP. A great common sense politician and a formidable campaigner with a big heart, and tremendous generosity of spirit - including towards those he disagreed with. RIP my friend."
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said: "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. Today it took a father, a husband, and a respected colleague. All my thoughts and prayers are with Sir David’s loved ones."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s wife Carrie tweeted: “Absolutely devastating news about Sir David Amess. He was hugely kind and good. An enormous animal lover and a true gent. This is so completely unjust. Thoughts are with his wife and their children."
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This is awful beyond words. My thoughts and deepest condolences are with David's family, friends and colleagues. May he rest in peace.”
She added: "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."
The former prime minister, David Cameron, said: “This is the most devastating, horrific & tragic news. David Amess was a kind and thoroughly decent man - & he was the most committed MP you could ever hope to meet. Words cannot adequately express the horror of what has happened today. Right now, my heart goes out to David's family."
The Irish foreign minister, Simon Coveney said: “What a shocking and tragic incident. Our thoughts and sincere sympathies are with family, friends and political colleagues of Sir David Amess MP."
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he was “devastated” and added: “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.”