LONDON — A Conservative Party lawmaker was stabbed on Friday afternoon while he was meeting with local constituents in southeast England, according to reports from British news outlets and comments from fellow members of Parliament. The London office of the lawmaker, David Amess, confirmed that an incident had taken place in the area of Southend, in Essex, but said that it was unable to provide further details.
While the police did not immediately identify the victim of the stabbing, several members of both the Conservative and Labour Parties referred to Mr. Amess in reactions posted on social media.
Mr. Amess had been scheduled to hold a meeting with voters at the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, east of London, where the attack is reported to have occurred. Photos taken at the scene show a number of emergency responders and a cordoned off area around the church. Local news outlets reported that an air ambulance had landed nearby.
Iain Duncan Smith, a former leader of the Conservative Party, told the BBC: “It is confirmed, David was stabbed a number of times, I understand, not just once which makes me very worried.’’
The incident has echoes of other attacks on British lawmakers in recent years. In 2016, Jo Cox, a Labour lawmaker who was killed when a right-wing extremist targeted her outside a meeting with constituents. Stephen Timms, another Labour lawmaker, was stabbed in 2010.
In a statement, Essex police said that it responded to reports of a stabbing in Eastwood Road North, shortly after 12:05 pm.
“Officers were on scene shortly after, arrested a man and recovered a knife. He is currently in custody,” the statement said.
“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,” the police said. They added that they wanted to thank the people who alerted them to the incident so quickly but appealed for information from anyone who saw anything or has CCTV, dash cam or doorbell footage.
Lawmakers from across the political spectrum reacted with horror to the news and voiced their support for Mr. Amess and his family. Andrew Bowie, a fellow Conservative lawmaker, posted on Twitter that he was “utterly shocked by the news about my friend and colleague David Amess.”
“A man more dedicated to his constituents you could not ever hope to meet,” he wrote. “To have been attacked like this during a surgery is horrific. Praying for him and his family just now.”
Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition Labour party, wrote: “Horrific and deeply shocking news. Thinking of David, his family and his staff.”
In Britain most members of parliament hold regular meetings to allow their constituents to raise issues of concern. While that allows them to keep contact with their voters the events can also make lawmakers vulnerable to security breaches.
In 2016 Ms. Cox, died after being shot and stabbed by a right-wing extremist at a meeting in her parliamentary constituency in West Yorkshire. That attack took place in the run up to the British referendum on Brexit, and the assailant, Thomas Mair, an unemployed gardener, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder.
Ms. Cox’s husband, Brendan Cox, reacted to the news of the attack on Mr. Amess on Friday in a post on Twitter.
“Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself,” he wrote. “There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets.”