British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will lead a special session of tributes in the House of Commons on Monday to David Amess a Conservative lawmaker stabbed to death as he met constituents in a church hall.
A 25-year-old British man with Somali heritage, Ali Harbi Ali is being held under the Terrorism Act on suspicion of murder.
The death of Amess, a popular legislator who had served in Parliament for almost 40 years, has shocked British politicians. It came five years after Labour Party lawmaker Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death by a far-right extremist.
The House of Commons returns Monday from a three-week break, and most of the scheduled business has been replaced by tributes to Amess. That will be followed by a service at the medieval St. Margaret’s Church in the shadow of Parliament.
The government has ordered a review of lawmakers’ security following the attack on Friday. British politicians are protected by armed police when they are in Parliament but generally are not given police protection when they meet with constituents in the districts they represent.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, crime and policing spokesman for the main opposition Labour Party, said he and many other politicians received “intimidation while out on the streets, death threats, terrible letters, awful emails.”
“I don’t know a member of Parliament who has not suffered in that way,” he told the BBC. “It’s clear that something now has to change.”
The killing has also renewed debate about the threat from individuals radicalized by Islamic extremist or far-right ideology. Police say the suspect appears to have acted alone and may have had a “motivation linked to Islamist extremism.”
The suspect had been referred several years go to a government-sponsored program designed to steer people away from extremism, but was not considered a current subject of interest by the security services.
Police have been given until Friday to question the suspect, and are working to determine what, if any, connection he had to Amess and why he targeted the lawmaker. The politician’s meeting with voters in the seaside town of Leigh-on-Sea was public and open to all.
Amess’ family said in a statement that they were struggling to comprehend what had happened.
“We ask people to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all,” said the politician’s wife and five children. “This is the only way forward. Set aside hatred and work towards togetherness.”