Democracy must go on: MPs in the South react to the death of Sir David Amess

ITV News Meridian's Kit Bradshaw reports.

MPs across the Thames Valley, South and South East have been paying tribute to Sir David Amess, who was killed at his constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea yesterday.

Today Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid flowers at the scene of the stabbing, as well as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

The visit came after Scotland Yard said the country's most senior counter-terror officer, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, had formally declared the incident as terrorism and said early investigations have revealed "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism".

A 25-year-old man arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder is in custody at an Essex police station.

Today, MPs from across the Meridian region have been paying tribute to Sir David Amess - but those we spoke to stressed that democracy must go on.

MP for Winchester, Steve Brine, told ITV News Meridian that his daughter asked him not to go on a cycle ride in the city today, after the events of yesterday.

He said that the death of Sir David Amess "impacts everything", and added that many MPs will now "be looking over their shoulders". Mr Brine added that for some, this has been the case for many years, though more has been done in recent times.

He also stressed that MPs must "continue to engage with their constituents" as it is "part of the job". However, he added that MPs also have "families and lives of their own to protect".

Watch: MP for Winchester, Steve Brine, reacts to the death of Sir David Amess.

Elsewhere in the Meridian region, Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling said that he didn't want to "be at risk" whilst he held surgeries with his constituents. However, he added that if MPs were to remove themselves from the public eye, it would "undermine the democracy that we're here to serve."

Mr Tugendhat added that it is a balance, saying that if "we as a country aren't willing to defend these democratic institutions which keep us safe and free, then we are just eroding that democracy."

Watch: Tonbridge and Malling MP, Tom Tugendhat, stresses the importance of democracy.

Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East, said that "engagement with the public is a vital part of our work".

In a tweet Mr Ellwood said that there is now huge, but understandable anxiety amongst MPs surrounding public engagement.

He's recommending that until the Home Secretary's review of MP security is completed, there should be a temporary pause in face to face meetings.

Caroline Dinenage, MP for Gosport, said that - like Sir David - she loves meeting her constituents and would be firmly opposed to any limit on seeing members of the public 'face-to-face'.

She added that it was important for people to be able to see her about their issues, and was even in a surgery herself when Sir David was attacked. The MP fears that if surgeries were to be done exclusively online or pre-arranged appointment, it would distance her constituents.

However, like Tobias Ellwood, Caroline Dinenage stressed the need for keeping MPs safe whilst remaining that vital accessibility.

Watch: Caroline Dinenage, MP for Gosport, highlights the need for surgeries to continue.

Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet, said that after the Murder of Jo Cox he had a complete review of the security of his office, so as to protect his staff.

Sir Gale said that both he and his staff know and acknowledge that politics is sometimes "a high risk business."

He added that "you cannot protect everything if you want to do the job that we all want to do it. And we'll go on doing it the way we do it, because that is the only way you can serve the people who elect you."

Watch: Sir Roger Gale, MP for North Thanet, describes the risks of working in Politics.