Politicians and public figures have paid tribute to a “hugely kind and good” MP, Sir David Amess, who has died after being stabbed in a church while meeting local constituents.
Speaking from Downing Street, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Amess “one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics.”
“He also had an outstanding record of passing laws to help the most vulnerable,” said Johnson. “We’ve lost today a fine public servant and a much-loved friend & colleague.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was saddened to hear about a man who “loved being an MP.”
“I am so deeply, deeply saddened by the tragic news that Sir David has passed away,” Khan wrote on Twitter. “He loved being an MP and was a great public servant. It is just awful. My thoughts and prayers, and those of all Londoners, are with David's loved ones at this time of unimaginable grief.”
Carrie Johnson, former Conservative party head of communications and wife of the Prime Minister described Amess as “a true gent” and “animal lover.”
“Absolutely devastating news about Sir David Amess,” she wrote on Twitter. “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.”
Amess, the MP for Southend West in Essex, was attacked on Friday while meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea. He was attended to by paramedics at the time but died on the scene. A knife was recovered from the scene and a 25-year-old man is in custody on suspicion of murder.
Politicians across the spectrum shared their shock at the news.
Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour party, said on Twitter that the news was “Horrific and deeply shocking. “Thinking of David, his family and his staff,” he wrote.
In a longer statement, he wrote: “This is a dark and shocking day. The whole country will feel it acutely, perhaps the more so because we have, heartbreakingly, been here before. Above all else, today I am thinking of David, of the dedicated public servant that he was and of the depth of positive impact he had for the people he represented.”
Amess is the second MP to have been killed in the last five years in the UK. Jo Cox, a Labour MP for Batley and Spen in west Yorkshire, was shot and killed in June 2016.
The Jo Cox Foundation, which hopes to “to build the fairer, kinder & more tolerant world the late Jo Cox MP believed in,” released a statement on Twitter about Amess’ death.
“We are devastated to hear the news of the death of Sir David Amess MP. We send our deepest sympathies to his family, loved ones, staff, and colleagues,” it wrote. “All elected representatives deserve to be safe, and to be treated with respect. Violence and abuse against them is utterly unacceptable. It endangers people and their families, and it endangers democratic life.”