ANDOVER'S community leaders have reacted in shock at the news that an MP has been stabbed to death this afternoon.

MP Sir David Amess has died whilst holding a constituency surgery in Essex.

Essex Police have confirmed a 25-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after the attack at the church in Leigh-on-Sea.

Reacting to the news, Andover's MP, Kit Malthouse, said that the veteran MP was "devoted to helping others".

Mr Malthouse, who also serves as crime and policing minister in the cabinet, told The Advertiser: "I was with the Prime Minister and Home Secretary when the awful news that Sir David Amess had been killed came through.

"We were all profoundly shocked and distressed and our first thoughts were and are with his family whose lives have been torn apart by this horrifying violence. David was a kind and gentle man who was devoted to helping others and to the importance of representative democracy.

"It was typical of him that he was doing what he saw as his job this morning, engaging with his constituents, and even more affecting that this monstrous act should take place while he was doing his duty. We will all miss him and mourn his passing.

“I am grateful to Essex Police and the wider emergency service for the very swift response to this terrible incident, and in particular for apprehending the suspected assailant immediately. Their confidence and reassurance that there is no wider cause for concern in the area is important."

Meanwhile, the leader of Test Valley Borough Council has said the attack has sent "a shiver down [his] spine".

Taking to Facebook, Cllr Phil North said on Friday afternoon: "I’m saddened and completed shocked to hear of the death of Sir David Amess MP. Just like Jo Cox, he was helping residents at a constituency surgery when he was brutally killed.

"Even for a relatively minor public representative like me, it sends a shiver down the spine that it can take just one deranged individual to murder someone who has been elected to serve their community. The killing of David, is an attack on democracy itself.

"My thoughts today are with his family - and the people of Southend."

Essex Police said they recovered a knife at the scene and are not looking for anyone else.

Sir David was married with five children.

His death comes roughly five years after the murder of Jo Cox, a Labour MP who was killed outside her constituency surgery in Yorkshire.