UK leaders pay tribute to slain lawmaker David Amess

World Saturday 16/October/2021 16:38 PM
By: DW
UK leaders pay tribute to slain lawmaker David Amess

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer and Home Secretary Priti Patel were among the politicians who paid tribute to the late Member of Parliament David Amess, 69, on Saturday after he was stabbed to death in his constituency east of London.

Earlier, the Metropolitan Police said the preliminary investigation has revealed a potential motivation linked to extremism. Two locations in London were being searched, though the investigation remains ongoing.

Amess, a long-serving MP in 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.

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

Second death of a British MP in five years

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

While Westminster, the seat of the British Parliament, has a heavy police presence, members of parliament often hold meetings 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.

MPs call for security review

One veteran lawmaker, Harriet Harman, vowed to write 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.