Boris Johnson lays flowers at site of UK MP's murder

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© PETER NICHOLLS Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the scene where British MP David Amess was stabbed to death in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. Reuters

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid flowers on Saturday at the church where MP Sir David Amess was murdered the day before, in an attack that police believe could be linked to terrorism.

Mr Johnson was joined by opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Ms Patel described Amess as “a man of the people”.

Mr Johnson and Mr Starmer stood side by side in a moment of silence at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, about 62 kilometres east of London.

This morning I laid a wreath in memory of Sir David Amess MP, a much loved colleague and friend.

My thoughts are with his wife, children and friends. pic.twitter.com/GIP6XkzJJe

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) October 16, 2021

Sir David, 69, had been an MP since 1983 and was stabbed to death while holding a constituency surgery.

A man of 25, who is reportedly British of Somali origin, was arrested on suspicion of murder. Police believe the attacker acted alone.

Former defence minister Tobias Ellwood called for a “temporary pause” in face-to-face meetings that MPs have with their constituents until a security review has been completed.

He said engaging with the public is a “vital part of our work”, but added that there was an “understandable huge anxiety among MPs now”.

Ms Patel said security for MPs was being reviewed and strengthened.

“All measures are being put in place for the security of MPs so that they can carry on with their duties as elected democratic members.

“We live in an open society, a democracy. We cannot be cowed by any individual,” she said.

Ms Patel added that Amess “was killed doing a job that he loves, serving his own constituents as an elected democratic member and, of course, acts of this … are absolutely wrong and we cannot let that get in the way of our functioning democracy”.

House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle promised no “knee-jerk reactions” but added: “We will take further measures if we need to.”

Amess’s death has prompted police forces to contact all MPs to discuss their security.

Armed police officers at the scene near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, in Essex, where Conservative MP Sir David Amess has died after he was stabbed several times at a constituency surgery. PA A police officer guards the scene. PA A man was reported to have run into the building and targeted the veteran politician. Police said a suspect had been arrested. AP An air ambulance arrived at the scene, before his death was later confirmed by Essex Police. AP A police cordon was erected around the crime scene and armed officers were seen standing outside the church. AP

Ms Patel, who is also an MP in Essex, said: “We’re all struggling to come to terms with the fact that Sir David Amess has been so cruelly taken away from us.”

She described Amess as a “passionate advocate and champion” for his constituency.

The attack comes five years after MP Jo Cox was murdered by a far-right extremist outside her constituency office in West Yorkshire.

Ms Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater, who became an MP in the same constituency this year, said Amess’s death had left her “scared and frightened”.

“This is the risk we are all taking, and so many MPs will be scared by this,” she said.

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