Normal business to resume in Commons after day of tributes to Sir David Amess

·3-min read
MPs will reflect on their personal safety as normal business resumes in the House of Commons following a day of poignant tributes to Sir David Amess (Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)
MPs will reflect on their personal safety as normal business resumes in the House of Commons following a day of poignant tributes to Sir David Amess (Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)

MPs will reflect on their personal safety as normal business resumes in the House of Commons following a day of poignant tributes to Sir David Amess.

The Conservative MP for Southend West was fatally stabbed on Friday during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex.

During an emotional day in Westminster on Monday, it was announced that Southend will be granted city status in recognition of Sir David’s decades-long campaign for the seaside town to be given the honour.

As the Commons returns to a regular schedule on Tuesday, it is likely that the security of MPs in the wake of Sir David’s death will still be on the minds of many.

On Monday, MPs shared experiences of receiving death threats as they grappled with the second murder of a colleague in five years.

Labour’s Jo Cox was killed by a right-wing extremist outside a West Yorkshire library where she was due to hold a constituency surgery in 2016.

Home Secretary Priti Patel told the Commons that a review of policing for politicians is “concluding literally in the next few days”.

The PM led tributes to Sir David Amess on Monday (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)
The PM led tributes to Sir David Amess on Monday (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

Boris Johnson announced the decision to grant Southend city status as he led passionate cross-party tributes to one of the “nicest, kindest and most gentle” MPs.

Southend was one of several towns competing for city status as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in 2022, with Sir David having pushed for the recognition for at least two decades.

The Prime Minister praised the Southend West MP as a politician who “simply wanted to serve the people of Essex” as a backbench Conservative.

And he vowed that the “contemptible act of violence” that took Sir David’s life on Friday at a surgery for constituents would not “detract from his accomplishments as a politician or as a human being”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the city status for the seaside town is a “fitting tribute to Sir David’s hard work”, as MPs across the political spectrum took part in a minute’s silence and paid tribute in a packed Commons chamber.

Earlier, Sir David’s widow had visited Belfairs Methodist Church to read tributes left outside the scene where he was fatally stabbed.

Lady Julia Amess wiped tears from her eyes and was comforted by relatives as they made an emotional visit to the Leigh-on-Sea church.

While recognising the need for security, many MPs have been careful to warn against allowing the attack on Sir David to create detachment from their constituents.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, who spoke of having received at least three threats on “life and limb” in the past two years, said having plain-clothes police officers on the doors of surgeries with constituents could have a “chilling effect” but he would understand if colleagues decided otherwise.

Downing Street insisted Sir David’s death “cannot get in the way of democracy” after suggestions MPs could end face-to-face surgeries with constituents.

Though he noted the decision will be up to individual MPs, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We will not be cowed by those who seek to divide us and spread hate and the PM has been struck by the bravery and commitment to serving constituents expressed by many MPs following Sir David’s death.”

Following tributes in the House, a service was held in Sir David’s honour nearby at St Margaret’s Church, attended by around 800 politicians including Mr Johnson and Sir Keir.

A 25-year-old man, understood by PA to be Ali Harbi Ali, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of Sir David’s murder and remains in police custody.

He has been detained under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and detectives are expected to continue to question him until Friday after a warrant of further detention was granted.

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