The ordinary business of the House of Commons was put on hold as MPs of all parties paid moving tributes to Sir David, who had been an MP since 1983.
The tributes yesterday afternoon followed an emotional visit by his widow, Julia, and other family members as they visited Belfairs Methodist Church in Essex, where Sir David was stabbed on Friday while meeting constituents.
They read messages on floral tributes that were piled up outside the church in Leigh-on-Sea and stayed for about 15 minutes during which they spoke to the church’s minister, Clifford Newman.
Sir David’s death has sparked a renewed debate about MPs’ safety after Jo Cox was murdered outside a library in Birstall, West Yorkshire, where she was due to hold a constituency surgery in 2016.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson said: “Sir David was taken from us in a contemptible act of violence striking at the core of what it is to be a member of this House, and violating both the sanctity of the church in which he was killed and the constituency surgery that is so essential to our representative democracy. But we will not allow the manner of Sir David’s death in any way to detract from his accomplishments as a politician or as a human being.”
He added: “This country needs people like Sir David, this House needs people like Sir David, and our politics needs people like Sir David. Dedicated, passionate, firm in his beliefs, but never anything less than respectful for those who thought differently.
“While his death leaves a vacuum that will not and can never be filled, we will cherish his memory, we will celebrate his legacy, and we will never allow those who commit acts of evil to triumph over the democracy and the Parliament that Sir David Amess loved so much.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told MPs he spoke to Jo Cox’s parents following the death of Sir David as he knew “they would be reliving that terrible day”.
“They said to me they were thinking of David’s family and how their lives would be changed forever,” Sir Keir said.
“So, today, this House holds in our hearts David’s wife Julia, his children Katie, David, Sarah, Florence and Alexandra and all those that loved him. We cannot begin to imagine what they are going through but our thoughts, our love and our prayers are with them.”
In the House of Lords, the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, who is from Leigh-on-Sea and grew up in Southend, said Sir David was a great friend and called for the building of statue to him at the end of Southend pier.
He added that Christian love “was the source and substance of David Amess’s vision and values”.
“It was this that enabled him to reach across party political divides, get on well with everyone, exhibit a good humour, generosity and a kindness that is sadly, sadly often woefully lacking in public and political discourse today.
“It’s because Sir David so exemplified those things, regardless of what his politics happened to be, and that is the reason why we are so easily able to come together and remember him, esteem his contribution to public life, mourn his death but not be defeated by the hatred that killed him.”
A 25-year-old man, understood to be Ali Harbi Ali, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder and yesterday remained in police custody. He has been detained under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said: “The circumstances of Sir David’s death are despicable and raise the most fundamental issues about how members of this House are able to perform their vital democratic responsibilities safely and securely.
“I give the House my undertaking I will do everything in my power to ensure that these issues are treated with urgency and with the sense of priority that they deserve.”
PM grants Amess's city wish for Southend
Southend will be granted city status as a tribute to Sir David Amess after the Conservative MP led a decades-long campaign for the move for the seaside town.
Boris Johnson announced the move yesterday as he led passionate cross-party tributes in the Commons to one of the “nicest, kindest and most gentle” MPs.
Mr Johnson said Sir David was a “seasoned campaigner of verve and grit” who “never once witnessed any achievement by any resident of Southend that could not somehow be cited in his bid to secure city status for that distinguished town”.
“As it is only a short time since Sir David last put that very case to me in this chamber, I am happy to announce that Her Majesty has agreed that Southend will be accorded the city status it so clearly deserves,” he added to cheers from MPs.
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