Tributes paid to 'true gent' Tory MP Sir David Amess after death following Leigh stabbing

In Southend, those Sir David Amess helped recalled his kindness, compassion and faith - they've been speaking to ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers

Tributes have poured in for "true gent" Conservative MP Sir David Amess who has died after being stabbed at his constituency surgery in Leigh.

The 69-year-old, who has been an MP since 1983, was stabbed several times during a “very distressing” incident in Essex.

Police said a 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder after the stabbing.

Tributes have poured in from across the political divide for the politician who was described as a "friend to everyone".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said all our hearts are filled with "shock" and "sadness", as he reacted his colleague's death.

"The reason people are so shocked and sad is above all he was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics," he said. "He also had an outstanding record of passing laws to help the most vulnerable."

Adding to tributes, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was a “dark and shocking day” after the stabbing.

“My heart goes out to David’s wife and children, his staff, friends and constituents,” he said.

“This is a dark and shocking day. The whole country will feel it acutely, perhaps the more so because we have, heartbreakingly, been here before."

Former Conservative prime minister Theresa May tweeted: “Heartbreaking to hear of the death of Sir David Amess. “A decent man and respected Parliamentarian, killed in his own community while carrying out his public duties."

Sir John Major, another former Tory prime minister, said he was heartbroken to hear of the death of the "dedicated public servant" and "good and decent man".

Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair said he was “shocked and horrified” by the death.

“David and I came into Parliament together in 1983,” he said in a statement.

“Though on opposite political sides I always found him a courteous, decent and thoroughly likeable colleague who was respected across the House. This is a terrible and sad day for our democracy."

Carrie Johnson, the prime minister’s wife, said she was devastated by the news, describing the events as "completely unjust".

Sir David is the second MP to be killed in the past five years, following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016.Her sister Kim Leadbeater, who is now an MP for Ms Cox's former constituency, said she felt "frightened" following the attack on the Tory MP.

She said: "I find myself now working as a politician and trying to do good things for people and it's really important you get good people in public life, but this is the risk we are all taking and so many MPs will be scared by this.

"My partner came home and he said he didn't want me to do it any more because the next time that phone goes, it could be a different conversation."

Many Cabinet ministers have also paid tribute to Sir David.

Among them was Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, who also tweeted that he was "heartbroken" at the loss.

“A great common sense politician and a formidable campaigner with a big heart, and tremendous generosity of spirit – including towards those he disagreed with. RIP my friend,” the justice secretary said.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak tweeted: “The worst aspect of violence is its inhumanity. It steals joy from the world and can take from us that which we love the most.

“Today it took a father, a husband, and a respected colleague. All my thoughts and prayers are with Sir David’s loved ones.”

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said Sir David was “a true parliamentarian”.

He described the news of the MP known for his championing of Southend as "tragic".

Paying his respects, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the MP was "a great man, a great friend, and a great MP" who was killed carrying out his "democratic role".

Communities Secretary Michael Gove tweeted: “David Amess’s passing is heartbreakingly sad. Just terrible, terrible news."

Sir David, a Conservative backbencher for nearly 40 years, helped with a long-running campaign to win city status for Southend.

David Garston, a local Conservative councillor, said he was an “irreplaceable” constituency MP whose approachability left him “vulnerable”. “He was probably one of the best constituency MPs in the country, and because he was so accessible and because he was everywhere, he obviously left himself vulnerable and didn’t think twice about it,” Mr Garston said. The councillor said that when Sir David came to his ward, “you couldn’t get very far because he’d stop every hundred yards to talk to somebody”.

More floral tributes, including a blue balloon with a written message on it, have been laid close to his surgery. One message read: “RIP We will miss you xx.”

Flowers at the scene near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea. Credit: PA

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was a time for elected representatives across the political spectrum to unite.

“In a democracy, politicians must be accessible and open to scrutiny, but no-one deserves to have their life taken while working for and representing their constituents,” she said.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted: “Deeply saddened to hear about the death of Sir David Amess. A truly despicable and horrifying act."

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey tweeted: “This is tragic and horrible news. My thoughts are with David’s wife and children, the wider family, friends and David’s community.

“A truly terrible day for British politics but most importantly of all our prayers are with all the people who loved David.”

Labour London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that he was "deeply saddened" by the news of the death.

“He loved being an MP and was a great public servant. It is just awful. My thoughts and prayers, and those of all Londoners, are with David’s loved ones at this time of unimaginable grief.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, tweeted: “Shocked to hear of the attack on Sir David Amess. Praying for him, his loved ones and his staff.

“Our elected representatives must be able to live and work without fear of violence or intimidation if we are to maintain our democracy.”

A joint statement from Southend Mosques remembered Sir David for his "warmth, selflessness and kindness" and condemned his killing as "brutal and senseless".