UK leaders pay tribute to slain lawmaker David Amess | News | DW | 16.10.2021

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UK leaders pay tribute to slain lawmaker David Amess

Among British politicians paying tribute on Saturday was UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. David Amess was stabbed to death while holding meetings in his constituency east of London on Friday.

Watch video 03:51

Tributes pour in for British MP David Amess

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, Home Secretary Priti Patel and other British politicians on Saturday paid tribute to Conservative lawmaker David Amess, who was stabbed to death in his constituency east of London a day earlier.

Johnson and Starmer stood side by side at one point in a moment of silence after laying flowers at the scene of the stabbing in a church before returning to their vehicles, escorted by police. Neither stopped to talk with reporters.

Earlier, the Metropolitan Police said the preliminary investigation "has revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism." Two locations in London were being searched, though the investigation remains ongoing. Police continued
Saturday to question a 25-year-old British man in connection with the killing.

Amess, 69, a long-serving member of the British Parliament since 1983, was repeatedly stabbed at the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea about 40 miles (62 kilometers) east of London on Friday.

Watch video 01:44

UK lawmaker dies after stabbing

Attacks on MPs

Amess' death comes five years after a fellow member of parliament, Jo Cox, was murdered by a far-right extremist.

UK Labour MP Jo Cox

UK Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered five years ago by a far-right extremist

In another incident involving an MP,  in 2000 Liberal Democrat lawmaker Nigel Jones and his aide Andrew Pennington were attacked by a man wielding a sword in Jones' constituency office. Pennington was killed defending Jones, who sustained several injuries.  

While Westminster, the seat of the British Parliament, has a heavy police presence, members of parliament often hold meetings, so-called surgeries, with voters one-on-one in their constituencies.

MPs are generally not afforded police protection during these meetings, nor are members of the public vetted before nearing their elected leaders.

Amess himself, in a book published last year on life in Westminster, wrote about Cox's "barbaric" murder and that security concerns could put an end to the "great British tradition" of giving voters easy access to their leaders.

MPs call for security review

One veteran Labour lawmaker, Harriet Harman, vowed to write to Johnson to ask him to back what is known as a Speaker's Conference to review the safety of parliamentarians following Amess' death. A Speaker's Conference brings together political parties and experts to generate non-partisan recommendations.

"I don't think anybody wants to go to a situation where the police are vetting individual constituents who come and see us, but I'm sure there is a safer way to go about our business," Harman told the BBC.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to review the security protocols of politicians.

Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative parliamentarian, noted on Twitter the tremendous anxiety among MPs following Friday's stabbing death.

"Until the Home Secretary's review of MP security is complete I would recommend a temporary pause in face-to-face meetings," he wrote. 

While the calls for change can be heard, the conversation has yet to shift toward what security measures might be effective.

ar/sri (AP, Reuters)

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