Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Sir Keir Starmer lay flowers outside church were Sir David Amess was fatally stabbed
Speaking today Priti Patel said: “We’re all struggling to come to terms with the fact that David Amess has been so cruelly taken away from all of us.
“Less than 24 hours ago David was in his own constituency doing a local advice surgery, which is something that all MPs do week in, week out.
“And of course David, as I knew him and as we all knew him, was just a passionate advocate and a champion for Southend, this wonderful, wonderful town.
“He was a man of the people, he was absolutely there for everyone, he was a much-loved parliamentarian, to me he was a dear and loyal friend, but also he was a devoted husband and father and we think of Julia and their children at this really sad time, they’re in our thoughts and our prayers.”
She added: “Acts like this are absolutely wrong and we cannot let that get in the way of our functioning democracy.”
She said that she had held meetings with the Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, police and security services to ensure appropriate measures are in place for MPs.
“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,” she said.
“We live in an open society, a democracy. We cannot be cowed by any individual… to stop us from functioning to serve our elected democracy.”
The home secretary, Priti Patel, has paid tribute to “man of the people” Sir David Amess but said that a balance could be found between the democratic process and the security of MPs, adding that “we cannot be cowed by any individual or any motivation … to stop us from functioning.”
A Southend councillor, Alex Bright, said the death of David Amess should lead to a review of how politicians engage with their constituents.
He told PA Media: “It’s difficult because to stop a lone attack like this is almost impossible, but I think there are going to have to be basic ways in which we change the way that we engage with our residents unfortunately.
“Security is at the forefront of our minds, much more than it ever has been, for everybody in any job or career.”
The Conservative councillor laid flowers near the police cordon outside Belfairs Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea, where Amess was stabbed to death.
Bright said the MP, whom he had known since he was a teenager, had been a “permanent fixture in Southend, in Conservative politics and in the community”.
He added: “We’ve been left with an enormous hole that can’t be filled … I can’t see how we’ll come back from this but I’m sure we will.”
Also paying tribute at Belfairs Methodist church with Boris Johnson, Sir Keir Starmer and Priti Patel, was the Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
Hoyle has said police were contacting all MPs to check on their security in the wake of Sir David Amess’s killing yesterday.
He told BBC Two’s Newsnight: “It is about doing the right things working with the police constabularies right across the United Kingdom because it is about joining that up.
“I know that they are contacting all the MPs to check about their safety, to reassure them, because in the end we have got to make sure that is a priority.”
He added: “Those people who do not share our values or share democracy, they will not win and we won’t let them win. We will continue to look at security, that is ongoing and it will continue.”
However, he said on Friday that while it was right that security was reviewed following the latest incident, it was important to avoid “knee-jerk” reactions.
PA Media reports that Virginia Lewis-Jones, the daughter of Dame Vera Lynn and family friend of Sir David Amess, will add a tribute to the MP to the statue of her mother that the pair fundraised for.
Amess supported and helped launch the Dame Vera Lynn Memorial Appeal, working to have a statue erected in her honour after her death, although the target of £1.5 million has not yet been hit.
Lewis-Jones told BBC Breakfast: “I think in some way, David should also be remembered in the memorial for what he has done to this point and hopefully in spirit will continue to do.
“We’ve got to continue, not only for my mother but also for David for what he began and for what we will continue to do because it’s half his memorial as well.”
The prime minister and the Labour party leader, Sir Keir Starmer, stood side-by-side in a moment of silence outside Belfairs Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, to pay tribute to Sir David Amess.
Jacqui Smith, former Labour MP and chairwoman of the Jo Cox Foundation, has described the fatal stabbing of Sir David Amess as “an attack on our democracy”.
Smith said it is right to have a review of MPs’ security and physical safety, but she added it needs to go “far further than that”, reports PA Media.
She told BBC Breakfast: “All of us have a responsibility to protect our democracy, which is so important for this country. We can’t do that unless we protect and respect those people who are elected as part of it.
“Sometimes for MPs it’s actually quite difficult for them to argue for special treatment, but they are special.
“They are the people who are elected in our democracy to represent us and we all therefore have a responsibility to treat them with respect and to ensure that they’re safe as they go about that job.”
She called for everyone to think about their “attitude” towards MPs, how they treat them and how they talk about them.
“We also need to think about the way in which our public life has become more divided, more toxic, and we need to take responsibility ourselves, through the media, through our own activities, through the way in which politicians themselves treat each other, for turning that around and recognising that an attack on a Member of Parliament is an attack on our democracy, we’ve all got a responsibility to protect that.”
MPs have been discussing the safety of MPs this morning.
The Labour MP Harriet Harman said she would write to the prime minister asking him to back a Speaker’s conference to review the safety of parliamentarians in their constituencies following the death of Sir David Amess.
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether the issue of MP safety has worsened since her election in 1982, Harman said: “Yes, it absolutely has.
“I think that, while we anguish about this dreadful loss, we can’t just assert that nothing should change.
“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.
“That’s why I’m proposing we have a Speaker’s conference, which is something that happens only once every 10 years or so where there is a major issue for parliament and our democracy, and the Speaker brings together the parties and the authorities and comes up with recommendations.
“Since Jo Cox’s tragic killing, we’ve had changes in our home security, we’ve had changes in security in parliament, but we haven’t looked at the issue of how we go about that important business in our constituency, but do it in a safe way – and I think we must do that now.
“We cannot have the death of an MP being a price worth paying for our democracy.”
Police forces are expected to contact all 650 MPs today as the home secretary ordered an immediate review of their security following the fatal stabbing of David Amess on Friday.
Police confirmed last night that the killing of Amess was being linked to Islamist terrorism.
PA Media reports:
In a statement, the Metropolitan police said senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing, deputy assistant commissioner Dean Haydon, had formally declared the incident as terrorism.
The early investigation has revealed “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism”, the force said.
A 25-year-old man arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder is currently in custody at an Essex police station.
As part of the investigation, officers are carrying out searches at two addresses in the London area, the Met said.
The force believes the man acted alone and are not seeking anyone else in connection with the matter at this time but inquiries into the circumstances of the incident are continuing.
The prime minister, Boris Johnson, and the home secretary, Priti Patel, as well as the leader of the Labour party, Sir Keir Starmer, have visited Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, to pay tribute to the late Tory MP Sir David Amess.
The prime minister laid a wreath at the front of Belfairs Methodist church, where Amess was fatally stabbed on Friday.
Starmer stood side by side with Johnson outside the church.
The politicians went up individually to the front of the church to pay their respects.