British Conservative MP David Amess has died of the wounds he received after being stabbed during an event in southeastern England which shocked a country still recovering from the 2016 murder of Labor MP Jo Cox.
Our hearts are filled with shock and sadness today at the death of MP David Amess, who was assassinated ... after nearly 40 years of service, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on TV. Flags above Downing Street are lowered to half-mast to honour Amess.
The Essex County Police had received a telephone call ”shortly after 12:05 (11:05 GMT) to report that Mr Amess, 69, had been stabbed, according to the official statement, which added the MP had “died at the scene.” A staunch Brexit supporter, Amess was known for championing animal rights and maintained a long-running campaign to upgrade the town of Southend to city status.
The police also explained a 25-year-old man had been arrested as a suspect in the murder, while the attacker's motives were still unknown. Counterterrorism services have taken over the investigation, Essex County Police also announced Friday afternoon. The investigation is just beginning and is being carried out by agents of the anti-terrorist directorate to determine whether it was a terrorist incident or not.
We have recovered a knife at the scene and we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the attack, added the authorities, while asking for help from potential witnesses or people who may have images from their security cameras.
Amess, a member of Johnson's party and a strong advocate of Brexit, was described by his peers as a fervent Catholic, a man with a big heart who used to tour his constituency. On Friday he was at a Leigh-on-Sea Methodist Church.
Shocked and deeply saddened by the assassination, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle, stressed that in the coming days we will have to discuss and examine the safety of the deputies and the measures to be taken,” while former Conservative Party Chairman Iain Duncan Smith insisted MPs needed to take additional security measures.
In 2016, Europhile Labour Deputy Jo Cox was murdered by neo-Nazi sympathizer Thomas Mair one week before the Brexit referendum. She was the first female MP assassinated in the country and the first assassinated MP since Ian Gow, a victim of the IRA in 1990. In 2010, Labour MP Stephen Timms was stabbed by a woman after voting for British intervention in the Iraq war. And ten years earlier, Liberal Democrat MP's aide Nigel Jones was killed during a sabre attack in a meeting with voters.
London's Metropolitan Police later said Amess' murder in Essex had been declared a terrorist incident, with the investigation being led by its Terrorism Command. “The early investigation has revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism,” police sources quoted by The New York Times, said.
In a book Amess authored last year, he had addressed the impact of Cox’s murder on British politics: “She was a young woman with a family going about her duties as we all do, completely unaware of the threat she faced. While it is often said that good can come out of someone’s death, it is difficult to see what good can come from this senseless murder,” Amess had written.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the health of Britain’s democracy relied on elected representatives being able to live and work without fear of violence or intimidation.