Sir David Amess MP: Jo Cox Foundation leads Yorkshire tributes to Conservative politician

The Jo Cox Foundation has paid tribute to Sir David Amess after the long-standing Conservative MP was killed this afternoon.

Sir David, a father-of-five who was elected to Parliament in 1983, is the second MP in five years to be killed following the murder of Jo Cox in 2016 as she attended a constituency surgery in Birstall.

A 25-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after Sir David was stabbed several times during a constituency surgery in Essex. The 69-year-old victim was fatally injured at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex midday on Friday.

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Jacqui Smith, chair of the Jo Cox Foundation, said: "This is a tragic loss for those who knew and loved Sir David - my heart goes out to them.

Sir David Amess pictured in 2013.

"I knew him as a generous and dedicated colleague in Parliament.

"Public life must be safe for those we ask to serve in our democracy - that is a responsibility for us all."

The Foundation said: "All elected representatives deserve to be safe and to be treated with respect.

"Violence and abuse against them is totally unacceptable. It endangers people and their families and it endanger democratic life."

Police outside the church where Sir David had been holding a constituency surgery.

Jo's husband, Brendan Cox, said on Twitter: "My thoughts and love are with David’s family. They are all that matter now. This brings everything back. The pain, the loss, but also how much love the public gave us following the loss of Jo. I hope we can do the same for David now."

Conal Gregory, former Conservative MP for York who was elected in 1983 in the same year that Sir David joined Parliament, said: "David Amess was a close friend occupying the next Parliamentary office to me. He was a very strong Christian who served his constituents loyally. I am devastated by his murder.

Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake, who represents Thirsk and Malton, told The Yorkshire Post: "David was such a huge figure in politics, just one of those people that everybody loved. He was funny, he was decent, he was apolitical in most things he did he just was there for all the right reasons and it's so sad to hear that he's no longer with us.

"It’s terrible for his family to lose him like that, somebody who has served the country for so long and it is just terrible, really sad."

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.”

Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell has paid tribute to his friend Sir David Amess.

He said: "I had the great honour of calling David Amess a friend when I was Bishop of Chelmsford.

"He was the MP for the constituency where I grew up, and not only did he always faithfully serve those people and that place, but had a particular concern for the Christian community born of his own deeply held Christian faith as a member of the Roman Catholic community.

"It is shocking that someone so dedicated to his community and public service was the victim of such violence as he went about his elected duty. It is hard to make sense of the horror of what has happened this afternoon but he and his family and those he loves are in my prayers."

Lord Eric Pickles, who is originally from Keighley, said that Sir David was “enormously good company” and “someone who liked to give”.

“It’s incredibly sad and tragic news. David was a great family man, a great local constituency MP,” he told Sky News.

“He was someone who liked to give. As a man he was enormously good company, he cared passionately about a number of issues, particularly animal welfare and he was somebody who really knew how the system operated.”

Lord Pickles said that the risk involved with being an MP was “part of the job” and that if politicians distanced themselves too much from the public then “democracy itself” would be affected.

“David had an open house routine (for his surgery) because you want to help people but… if we’re being really blunt, sometimes it attracts obsessives,” he said, speaking to Sky News.

“You need to have a degree of circumspection.

“It’s part of the job, it’s something you sign up to… It’s tragic, it’s dreadful, but it’s not normal.

“It happens and it may be that members of Parliament take the basic precaution of getting a name and address before they see somebody or getting an outline of a case before they see somebody.

“We live in an age where sometimes you have to take a risk, no-one expects you to die, but you don’t expect it to be entirely risk free.

“A doctor or nurse doesn’t expect things to be risk free, even in teaching you’re taking some risks.

“When you’re dealing with people who are very emotional, who feel like the system has let them down, often they’re looking for someone to blame.

“But if we close up shop and disappear behind a security bubble then it’s democracy itself that will be the lesser thing.”