‘Killed Serving the People’: UK Media Shows Rare Display of Cross-Party Unity in Tribute to Dead MP

© Photo : Twitter / @TmorrowsPapersBritish newspapers' reaction to Tory MP David Amess's stabbing death.
British newspapers' reaction to Tory MP David Amess's stabbing death. - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.10.2021
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The Metropolitan Police Service has declared the fatal stabbing of Conservative Party MP David Amess to be a terrorist incident. Amess died at Belfairs Methodist Church in the Essex town of Leigh-on-Sea on Friday during a meeting with constituents after being knifed repeatedly. A 25-year-old suspect has been detained.
The brazen murder of David Amess in public and in broad daylight has created a rare moment of unity across the ideological spectrum in UK media, with virtually all the major papers, tabloids, and dailies giving full-page spreads covering his fatal stabbing, providing tributes, or renewing debate about measures to ensure the safety of the UK’s 650-member House of Commons.
The 69-year-old lawmaker and father of five, who served as a member of parliament for Southend West in Essex, England for 24 years, and before that as the MP for Basildon from 1983-1997, was killed while meeting constituents at a church on Friday.
Conservative-leaning papers and tabloids including The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, and The Sun provided glowing tributes to the late MP, quoting Prime Minister Johnson’s description of the backbench MP as “a fine public servant” and publishing photos of Amess with his beloved dogs, and in The Daily Mail’s case, with his daughter Alex at her recent wedding.
Labour-leaning and centre-left papers including The Guardian and The Daily Mirror joined in the tributes, with The Mirror’s full-page spread splashed with the headline “Another MP Killed: He died serving the People.” Amess was the second MP to be murdered in public following Labour MP Jo Cox’s June 2016 shooting and stabbing outside a library in Birstall, West Yorkshire ahead of a constituency meeting by a 53-year-old neo-Nazi.
Centrist and/or largely non-political papers including the Financial Times, The Independent, The Daily Star, and i Weekend focused coverage on renewed concerns about politicians’ public safety. “How could it happen AGAIN?” The Daily Star asked in its spread, alongside a photo of Amess with one of his pups.
Johnson led tributes to Amess on Friday, with the Union Jack lowered to half-mast over Downing Street in his honour. Leader of the opposition Labour Keir Starmer tweeted that the news of Amess’ death was “horrific and deeply shocking,” and said he was “thinking of David, his family and his staff.”
In the months leading up to his death, Amess called on the government to do more to fight knife crime following the well-publicised death of an 18-year-old man in his constituency. In June, the politician said that the government’s war on knife crime was not sufficient, and called for police to beef up random stop-and-search checks for weapons.
Amess never held a ministerial post – he served as a backbench MP throughout his 38-year career in the Commons. His pet issues including animal rights, including a proposed ban on fox hunting and puppy mills. He was an adamant supporter of Brexit, voted in favour of the 2003 US-UK invasion of Iraq (but later expressed regrets over the decision), was a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel parliamentary group, and a proponent of regime change in Iran. He opposed British military action against Syria in 2013, citing the Iraq cockup.
Police declared Amess’ death a terrorist incident Saturday, turning over the probe to the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, who will now work on the case with the Eastern Region Specialist Operations Unit and Essex Police. A 25-year-old British national of Somali descent suspect has been detained, with two London addresses searched by officers. Investigators believe the suspect acted alone, and have indicated that their “early investigation has revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism.”
Also on Saturday, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel ordered police to launch an immediate review of the security arrangements of the remaining 649 MPs. House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has promised to look into the safety measures of MPs after Amess’ killing, but cautioned against a “knee jerk reaction.” Labour MP Chris Bryant told media that “sensible measures” should be introduced, but that MPs “don’t want to live in fortresses” either.
Police cordon off the church where Sir David Amess was murdered - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.10.2021
UK Police Ordered to Immediately Review MPs' Security Arrangements After Fatal David Amess Stabbing
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