Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that the Queen will award city status to Southend in honour of MP Sir David Amess who was murdered last week.
Amess represented Southend West for over 22 years and was first elected as an MP in the consistency back in 1997.
In reaction to the news, MPs cheered in the Commons as the Prime Minister announced the agreement. This announcement comes after Sir David campaigned tirelessly over the years for Southend to be granted city status.
The 69-year-old noted how much he would bring up the topic and just a day before his death he told BBC Essex: “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.”
This will make Southend the second city within the county of Essex, joining Chelmsford.
Johnson told the Commons: “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.
“That Sir David spent almost 40 years in this House, but not one day in ministerial office, tells everything about where his priorities lay.”
Sir Keir Starmer believes the gesture is “a fitting tribute to Sir David’s hard work.”
He addressed the Commons: “Fitting, because David delivered for the causes he championed. He passed a Bill that forced action on fuel poverty, he paved the way for better standards of fire safety and delivered protections for animal welfare.”
Before the announcement, the House of Commons observed a minute’s silence in memory of Conservative MP.
Leading the tributes to Sir David, Johnson told the House of Commons: “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.”
He then continued by discussing how the MP was killed: “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. “Sir David was a patriot who believed passionately in this country, in its people and in its future. He was also one of the nicest, kindest and most gentle individuals ever to grace these benches.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel described Sir David’s killing as “a terrible and sad moment in our history, an attack on our democracy and an appalling tragedy.”
She added: “We are all thinking of David Jr and his family.”
Political figures from all sides have also taken to Twitter to pay their tributes to Sir David, and praised the news at Southend becoming a city.
The investigation into the murder of Sir David Amess is ongoing, but police and counter-terrorism now have until Friday to question the 25-year-old man they arrested on suspicion of killing the 69-year-old.
The suspect is understood to be Ali Harbi Ali, a British citizen with Somali heritage who remains in custody.
It is thought he was born in the UK after his family fled the war-torn African nation in the 1990s.
Scotland Yard said the early investigation revealed a “potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism” while official sources told the PA news agency the probe was assuming this was the motivation behind the attack.
Despite this possible terror-related motive, the suspect was not, and had not previously been, a subject of interest (SOI) for the security services.