Southend to Be Granted City Status in Honour of Slain MP Sir David Amess

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 18: A large photograph of murdered MP David Amess is seen outside the Houses of Parliament on October 18, 2021 in London, England. Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West, was stabbed to death while meeting with constituents in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday. A 25-year-old man, Ali …
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Queen Elizabeth II has agreed to grant the Essex seaside town of Southend city status in honour of Sir David Amess, the Conservative MP who was fatally stabbed while speaking to constituents on Friday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement on Monday in the House of Commons during a session held in remembrance of the MP, who was killed while holding a surgery — a public meeting with constituents — at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

Police are currently holding a 25-year-old male suspect and are treating the stabbing as a “terrorist incident”.

In the immediate aftermath of his death, tribute poured in for Sir David, a Catholic, socially-conservative Brexiteer who spent nearly 40 years on the backbenches (i.e., never holding a government role) as a public servant devoted to his constituents and the matters that affected them, one of the issues close to his heart being his campaign for his town to be granted city status.

Prime Minister Johnson said on Monday: “I am happy to announce that her majesty has agreed that Southend will be accorded the city status it so clearly deserves.

“That Sir David spent almost 40 years in this house but not one day in ministerial office tells everything about where his priorities lay.

“He was not a man in awe of this chamber, nor a man who sought patronage or advancement. He simply wanted to serve the people of Essex, first in Basildon then in Southend. And it was in the act of serving his constituents that he was so cruelly killed.”

Historically, cities were settlements with cathedrals. While not a requirement, it was not until Birmingham was made a city in 1889 that the status was granted to a town without a cathedral. City status is granted by the Monarch on the advice of ministers, usually after a series of competitive bids such as during the millennium competition in 2000 or for the Royal jubilees.

Continuing his tribute to the late Sir David, Mr Johnson said: “This House has lost a steadfast servant. We’ve lost a dear friend and colleague. And Julia and her children have lost a loving husband and a devoted father.”

“Sir David was a patriot who believed passionately in this country, in its people, in its future. He was also one of the nicest, kindest, and most gentle individuals ever to grace these benches. A man who used his decades of experience to offer friendship and support to new members of all parties, whose views often confounded expectation and defied easy stereotypes and who believed not just in pointing out what was wrong with society, but in getting on and doing something about it.

“It was that determination to make this country a better place that inspired his outstanding record on behalf of the vulnerable and the voiceless,” the prime minister said.

The Conservative leader concluded: “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 to those who thought differently. Those are the values he brought to a lifetime of public service. There can be few among us more justified than him in his deep faith in the resurrection and the life to come.”

Another one of those to pay tribute to Sir David was fellow Conservative Brexiteer Mark Francois, who said of his friend: “I am absolutely determined that he will not have died in vain. He is now resting in the arms of the God he worshipped so devotedly his whole life. So farewell, my colleague, my great friend, in fact, quite, simply, the best bloke I ever knew.”

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