October 16, 2021
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) and Labour Party leader Keir Starmer at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on Oct 16, 2021. They were among those to lay flowers in tribute to slain lawmaker David Amess at the scene of the murder. PHOTO: AFP
LEIGH-ON-SEA, England – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday (Oct 16) laid flowers at the church where a lawmaker was stabbed to death a day earlier, in what police say was a terrorist attack probably linked to Islamist extremism.
The attack on Mr David Amess, from Mr Johnson’s Conservative Party, comes five years after the murder of Ms Jo Cox, a lawmaker from the opposition Labour Party, and has prompted a review of the security of elected politicians.
Mr Amess, 69, was knifed repeatedly in the attack at about midday on Friday in Leigh-on-Sea, east of London, during a meeting with constituents.
Police arrested a 25-year-old British man at the scene on suspicion of murder, adding it is believed he acted alone.
In a statement early on Saturday, police said early investigations had revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism.
Mr Johnson, Interior Minister Priti Patel and Labour Party leader Keir Starmer were among those to lay flowers in tribute to Mr Amess at the scene of the murder.
Mr Johnson and Mr Starmer stood side by side in a moment of silence before leaving. On Friday, Mr Johnson said Britain had lost a fine public servant and a much-loved friend and colleague.
As tributes poured in for Mr Amess, politicians described the attack as an assault on democracy. Ms Patel has said she will review the safety of elected politicians.
In Westminster, where lawmakers, known as MPs, do much of their work in Parliament, armed police are on patrol. But in their electoral districts, known as constituencies, more often than not, there is no security.
Mr Amess was stabbed while holding a surgery – one-to-one meetings with voters, open to whoever turns up.
Conservative lawmaker Tobias Ellwood said that while engagement with the public was a vital part of the job, there was now huge anxiety among MPs.
“Until the Home Secretary’s (Patel) review of MP security is complete, I would recommend a temporary pause in face-to-face meetings,” he said on Twitter.