Leight-on-Sea, UK — For the second time in more than five years, a British legislator has been killed in public view, this time in a Gentile coastal town, where the victim, a Conservative party member of parliament, was assassinated on Friday inside the church.
The attack, which officials declared a terrorist attack early Saturday morning, stunned Britain’s political establishment, raising questions about the safety of lawmakers at a time when the country was already on the brink, tense with law and fuel shortages and distorted by political culture. It became increasingly green and militant after Brexit.
“Preliminary investigations have revealed a possible motive associated with Islamic extremism,” police said.
The legislator, David Ames, 69, was a member of the House of Commons and was known for his soft-spoken and harsh views on Brexit. He was involved in daily political practice with politicians during the attack on Lee-on-Sea, in front of the Thames, 40 miles east of London.
Police arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of murder and recovered a knife at the scene. But they did not identify the attacker.
Ben-Julian Harrington, Essex Chief of Police, called it a “sad day” in which the life of a public servant was “brutally cut.”
Mr Ames’ death, known for campaigning on behalf of animal welfare to criticize the EU, sparked a similar attack in 2016, just days before the British left the EU to vote in the referendum. Joe Cox, a Labor legislator who opposed Brexit, was killed when a right-wing extremist targeted her outside a meeting with allies.
In 2010, Stephen Timms, another Labor legislator, was stabbed twice in the abdomen by an Islamist militant, but survived.
Mr Ames’ death came as a shock to parliamentarians, outraged by the attack, paid tribute to his long government service and withdrew from another example of sudden violence against a politician around the local constituency.
“David is a man who deeply believed in this country and its future. Today we have lost a great public servant and a much-loved friend and colleague,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a televised statement.
Mr. Mr. Johnson. Describing Ames as “one of the most gentle, handsome, and most gentle men in politics,” he said he had “excelled in making laws to help the most vulnerable.”
House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hall said in a statement that “this is an incident that is sending shock waves across the parliamentary community and across the country.” Mr. Ames, he said, has “built a reputation for compassion and generosity” for nearly four decades in government.
In the UK, most MPs hold regular meetings, called surgeries, to allow constituency members to raise issues of concern. While meetings allow politicians to maintain contact with voters, they can also subject lawmakers who travel frequently without security to security breaches. During the 2019 general election, lawmakers complained of abuse on social media, with some fearing it could turn into violent street attacks.
Mr. Amaze had planned to hold a meeting with voters at Belfers Methodist Church in the southeastern district of Lee-on-Se when the attack took place.He showed several emergency responders around the church and a neighborhood. Authorities responded to reports that he had been stabbed around 12:05 p.m., and police said Mr Ames had died at the scene.
“We are not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident and do not believe there is a continuing threat to the wider public,” police said.
A father of five, Mr. Amaze first entered parliament in 1983 when Margaret Thatcher led the Conservative Party. He initially represented Basildon’s seat in Essex, where his election supports the Conservatives in the area. He shifted constituencies to the South West in 1997, where he won every general election.
A Roman Catholic who campaigned against abortion, Mr. Ames was a social conservative and an ardent supporter of the British monarchy.
Members of the community gathered at a Catholic church on Friday evening. Meanwhile, a small monument to Mr. Ames was erected on the street past the church where he was attacked.
“It was a particular madman who decided to take drastic action,” said local councilor Alan Hart. I agree with politics.
Mr Hart said politicians should hold close, face-to-face meetings with voters in the communities they represent when the attack is a concern. “We have a very healthy political scene in this country,” he said. “It is important that this access continues.”
Fears of lawmakers’ vulnerability escalated after the attack on Ms Cox, who was shot and stabbed by a right-wing militant in her parliamentary constituency in northwestern Yorkshire. The attack came just days before the Brexit vote, and the attacker, unemployed gardener Thomas Myer, was sentenced to life in prison.
Ms. Cox’s husband, Brendan Cox, responded to the latest attack news on Friday. “Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy,” he wrote. “No reason, no reason. It’s as cowardly as it gets.”
Across the political spectrum, lawmakers and other prominent Britons recalled Mr Ames’ gentle demeanor and work on behalf of animals.
The Prime Minister’s wife Gary Johnson tweeted “He was so nice and nice.” A great animal lover and a real man. This is completely unfair. Thoughts are with his wife and their children.
“Heartbroken,”. “I can write about how Sir David was one of the kindest, most compassionate, well – liked colleagues in Parliament. But I can not. I feel unwell.
Named for the annual regatta and folk festival, Lee-on-See, news of the attack usually echoed through the quiet wooded streets.
“It’s not really happening, it’s a nice quiet area,” said Alisha Godabags, 24, who lives in an apartment just a few doors down from the church. “I mean, it really happened in a church.”
At a small white shock mojos seafood serving fresh fish from a nearby beach, customers expressed horror and sadness. One mentioned the impact on Mr. Ames’ family. “He has five children,” the person said quietly.
Lee Jordison, who works at a butcher shop 100 yards from the church, said he heard the siren sound and saw armed officers running down the street, breaking the autumn afternoon silence and immediately realizing that something was wrong. People from the church shouted, “Please come here quickly, he is not breathing!” He said that was what a shocked woman said.
Mr. Mr. Jordison. He said he had met Ames a few times. “He always comes to our shop,” he said. “He’s been a good man since I met him. He has a lot of time for the community.
Megan Specia Lee-on-Sea, and Stephen Castle and Mark Landler reported from London.