LONDON — British MP David Amess died Friday after being stabbed several times at an open meeting with constituents.
Amess, the long-serving Conservative MP for Southend West, was attacked at a drop-in session at a church in Leigh-on-Sea, southeastern England.
In a statement, Essex Police said a man injured at the meeting was treated by emergency services and died at the scene.
The force said a 25-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of murder and was in custody. A knife was recovered nearby.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Priti Patel, the home secretary, have returned to London from the west of England where they were due to take part in a Cabinet away day.
Politicians from across the spectrum paid tribute.
Johnson said Amess was “one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics.”
Speaking on Friday evening, Johnson said: “I think all our hearts are full of shock and sadness today at the loss of Sir David Amess MP, who was killed in his constituency surgery in a church after almost 40 years of continuous service to the people of Essex and the whole of the United Kingdom.
“And the reason I think people are so shocked and saddened is above all he was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics.”
Communities Secretary Michael Gove tweeted: “David Amess’s passing is heart-breakingly sad. Just terrible, terrible news. He was a good and gentle man, he showed charity and compassion to all, his every word and act were marked by kindness. My heart goes out to his family.”
Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said in a statement he was “shocked and deeply distressed” by Amess’s death, describing the MP as “a lovely man, devoted to his family, to parliament and his Southend West constituency.”
Hoyle acknowledged “in the coming days we will need to discuss and examine MPs’ security and any measures to be taken.”
Amess was first elected in 1983 as the MP for Basildon. His re-election for the seat in 1992 was a key moment for John Major’s premiership, signaling the Conservatives would win the general election against expectations.
Since his election as MP for Southend in 1997, he has become well-known in Westminster as a fierce champion of his seat and at the helm of a long-running campaign to grant city status to Southend.
He was also closely involved in national causes including the fight for better treatment of endometriosis and animal welfare.
He was knighted in 2015 for political and public service.
This was the third time a British MP has been stabbed in their constituency in recent years, after Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in 2016 and Labour’s Stephen Timms was attacked in 2010.