Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has described his devastation at the death of party colleague Sir David Amess, shortly after they were on the same parliamentary trip overseas.
Sir David died after being stabbed during a regular open meeting for constituents on Friday.
It has sent shockwaves through the country five years after the murder of MP Jo Cox.
And it prompted immediate calls to review safety measures for politicians and their staff.
Mr Ross, MP for Moray, had been in Qatar with Sir David as part of a Commons delegation.
It was a privilege to spend the last week with him.
– Douglas Ross
The party leader, who is also an MSP, said he is shocked and devastated.
“David was an outstanding MP, a great colleague and someone I was proud to call a friend,” he said.
“I’ve just returned from Qatar as part of a Parliamentary delegation that David led. It was a privilege to spend the last week with him.”
The Emir of Qatar was among those reacting to the death on social media, saying he had played a role in strengthening friendship between countries.
‘Complete loss for words’
Mr Ross said his party colleague had been great company, was witty and engaging, and “had so much to offer”.
He added: “When I was first elected as an MP in 2017, David’s office was just two doors down from mine, and he did everything he could to make me feel welcome and supported in Westminster.
“David died doing the job he loved, helping his constituents and carrying out his public duty. A duty he has carried out for the last 38 years he has been a member of parliament.
“I am at a complete loss for words to describe this tragedy – and I offer my prayers and heartfelt condolences to David’s wife Julia and his five children.”
Sir David, MP for Southend West in Essex, was at a constituency surgery to hear from local people at Belfairs Methodist Church
Former Scottish Secretary David Mundell was also with him in the past week in Qatar.
“This is such an appalling and senseless act,” he said.
“I just feel numb having just spent the last few days with Sir David on a parliamentary visit.”
This is such an appalling and senseless act. I just feel numb having just spent the last few days with Sir David on a Parliamentary visit. He was such a kind, gentle man with a wicked sense of humour but a real dedication to public service. My heart goes out to his family https://t.co/N8wSeuF8Bt
— David Mundell MP (@DavidMundellDCT) October 15, 2021
The Conservatives and other parties said they would suspend any political campaigning over the weekend.
Flags were lowered to half mast outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Elected representatives from across the political spectrum will be united in sadness and shock today.
“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.”
At Westminster, Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he will look at security arrangements.
MP Alister Jack, the Conservative Scottish Secretary, said: “I am shocked, and hugely saddened, by the death of David Amess. He was a great parliamentarian, and one of the kindest and best people in the House of Commons. My thoughts are with his family at this terrible time.”
Kind words from Emir of Qatar who met Sir David Amess MP just the other day.
David had met with refugees from Afghanistan who are being looked after and hugely helped meantime in Qatar as they await to continue to other countries. https://t.co/o14CoRSRxe
— Angus B MacNeil MP (@AngusMacNeilSNP) October 15, 2021
His part colleagues in the north-east of Scotland were also shaken by the death.
Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, Andrew Bowie, said: “A kinder, gentler and more dedicated member of parliament, indeed, man, you could ever hope to meet.
“He always had time for a smile and an encouraging word for new MPs.”
Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid said: “Sir David was a close friend of former Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, Sir Albert McQuarrie, and I’ll never forget how he offered his friendship and assistance to me as the new MP in his friend’s old seat.
“He will be sorely missed and my thoughts and sympathies are with his wife and family.”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP said: “Sir David was a thoroughly decent man, who was well liked across parties and the House of Commons. All of us are appalled at this barbaric attack, which was as senseless as it was cowardly.
“In recent years, we have seen increasingly unacceptable levels of abuse and intimidation aimed at MPs, parliamentary staff and public figures. At its worst, this has resulted in violent attacks on multiple MPs and the murder of Jo Cox and now Sir David Amess.
“All of us are united in sadness today and in calling for an end to this abuse, intimidation and violence. It is a threat to our democracy – and it has to stop.”
Essex police response
In a statement, Essex Police said officers arrived at the scene in Eastwood Road North shortly after 12.05pm.
The statement said: “Officers were on scene shortly after, arrested a man and recovered a knife. He is currently in custody.
“We are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident and do not believe there is an ongoing threat to the wider public.
“We want to thank the public who alerted us to the incident so quickly.”