Southend to be given city status in tribute to Sir David Amess, PM announces

Boris Johnson has announced that the Queen has agreed to grant Southend city status in a tribute to Sir David Amess who long-championed the cause.

The prime minister’s remarks followed a minute’s silence in the Commons chamber for the 69-year-old Conservative MP, who was killed while conducting a constituency surgery on Friday in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

In his statement, Mr Johnson said the MP was taken “in a contemptible act of violence”, but insisted: “We will not allow the manner of Sir David’s death to detract from his accomplishments as a politician or human being”.

Paying tribute to the “bulging folder” held by Sir David on the accomplishments of Southend, he added: “He never once witnessed any achievement by any resident of Southend that could not somehow be cited in his bid to secure city for that distinguished town.”

In an announcement Dominic Raab predicted was “inevitable” over the weekend, the prime minister went on: “I am happy to announce that Her Majesty has agreed that Southend will be accorded the city status it so clearly deserved”.

Since his death on Friday, many MPs and ministers have recalled Sir David’s efforts and energy in ceaselessly campaigning for the Essex town on Thames Estuary to be a designated a city.

Speaking to the BBC just before his death, Sir David said: “If the House of Commons wants to shut me up from being the city bore, then they are going to have to grant it to us.

“I’ve spent all my time mentioning it at every conceivable opportunity. It is a no brainer. The benefits are enormous frankly.”

Opening tributes, Mr Johnson also told MPs: “The passing of 72 hours has done little to numb the shock and sadness we all felt when we heard of the tragic and senseless death of Sir David Amess.

“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 devoted father. Nothing I or anyone else can say can lessen the pain, the grief, the anger they must feel at this darkest of times.”

Sir Keir Starmer described the decision to grant Southend city status as a “fitting tribute” to Sir David, saying that on behalf of Labour he wanted to acknowledge the pain that is felt on the opposite benches, as he remembered just how “acutely” Jo Cox’s loss was felt on his benches ahead of the EU referendum in 2016.

The attack on Friday has also renewed scrutiny of politicians’ safety while Priti Patel, the home secretary, ordered a review of security arrangements for MPs, which will conclude in the “next few days”.

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