by Jill Lawless
LONDON (AP) – British Conservative MP David Eames was stabbed to death on Friday during a routine meeting with constituents at a church in eastern England, an attack that united Britain’s corrupt politicians in shock and grief. A 25-year-old youth was arrested from the spot.
The Essex Police Force said officers were called to reports of a stabbing in the seaside town of Lay-on-Sea after Friday afternoon. It said, “One person was arrested and a knife was recovered.
“We are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident and do not believe there is any danger to the wider public,” police said.
A motive was not given and the suspect was not identified. More than two hours after the attack, the force said the man injured in the stabbing had died. It did not release its name. Police said that the accused is being arrested on suspicion of murder.
Sky News and others said the Ames attack was carried out during a routine meeting with constituents at the Belfair Methodist Church in a residential area of Leigh-on-Sea, about 40 miles (62 kilometers) east of London.
Aerial footage showed several ambulances and an air ambulance waiting near the church, where paramedics worked to save the lives of AIIMS.
Local councilor John Lamb said AIIMS had not been taken to a hospital more than two hours after the attack and that the situation was “extremely critical”. His death was announced shortly thereafter.
Ames, 69, was the Member of Parliament for Southend West, which includes Leh-on-Sea since 1997, but has been a legislator since 1983. He was a popular member of parliament, known for his relentless campaign. Southend has declared the city.
Politicians across the political spectrum expressed shock and sadness.
Conservative MP Tracy Crouch tweeted: “Heartbroken. I could write on how Sir David was one of the kindest, most compassionate, likable colleagues in Parliament. But I can’t. I Feeling sick. I’m lost.”
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party tweeted: “Elected representatives from across the political spectrum will unite in grief and shock today. In a democracy, politicians should be accessible and open to scrutiny, but no one deserves to take their own life to work for and represent their constituents. “
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s wife, Carrie Johnson, wrote on Twitter: “Absolutely devastating news about Sir David Ames. He was very kind and nice. A huge animal lover and a true gentleman. This is completely unjust. Thoughts are with his wife and their children.”
Violence against British politicians is rare, but concerns have risen in recent years about increasingly bitter polarization in politics. In June 2016, Labor MLA Joe Cox was stabbed to death in his North England constituency. A far-right extremist was convicted of his murder.
Cox’s widower, Brendan Cox, tweeted that “attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself. No excuse, no justification. This is as funky as it gets. “
British lawmakers are protected by armed police when they are inside parliament, and security there was tightened after an attacker inspired by the Islamic State group fatally stabbed a police officer at the gate in 2017.
But politicians have no such protection in their constituencies. AIIMS publishes the times and locations of its open meetings with constituents on its website.
Two other British MPs have been attacked this century during their “surgery”, regular meetings where constituents can present concerns and complaints.
Labor legislator Stephen Timms was stabbed and wounded in the stomach in May 2010 by a female student radicalized by an al-Qaeda-linked preacher’s online sermons.
In 2000, Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones and his colleague Andrew Pennington were attacked by a man wielding a sword during one such meeting. Pennington was killed and Jones was injured in the attack in Cheltenham, England.