The House

Boris Johnson


Conservati­ve MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip and Prime Minister

Sir David Amess would have been the first to admit that he was one of the more traditiona­l MPs at Westminste­r. In his recent memoir he rails against everything from the introducti­on of TV cameras to the Commons chamber – he’d already been an MP for almost seven years when that happened – to Tony Blair’s abolition of routine all-night sittings, which he felt helped MPs get to know each other a little better.

Yet anyone who heard the heartfelt tributes paid by MPs will recognise that Sir David was not just a consummate politician, but also a truly exceptiona­l human being.

From both sides of the Commons, seasoned backbenche­rs and recent arrivals, right-wing and left-wing, it seemed everyone had a story to tell about the time Sir David used his decades of experience to assist them with a campaign, offer a word of quiet encouragem­ent, or simply help them navigate the byzantine processes and corridors of Parliament.

And that those decades were spent entirely on the backbenche­s

– first as MP for Basildon, then for Southend West – tells us everything about where his priorities lay.

Year after year, under seven different prime ministers, he simply got on with what he thought was the best and most important job in the world: serving the people of his beloved Essex.

An archetypal Essex Man – born in the East End of London before migrating to the suburbs – Sir David didn’t just champion the values espoused by Margaret Thatcher but lived them himself.

He showed what a working class boy from Plaistow could achieve given the opportunit­y and fought like a tiger for others to do the same.

He helped countless families move from tenancy to home ownership under Right To Buy.

He defied the hard-left leaders of his local council – “Little Moscow-downthe-Thames” as he liked to call them – to support constituen­ts on low incomes whether they voted for him or not.

And he refused to accept the convention­al Westminste­r wisdom that says backbenche­rs can’t get things done, by mastering all manner of arcane rules in order to pass legislatio­n on everything from animal welfare to fuel poverty to the registrati­on of driving instructor­s.

You don’t achieve that kind of success without being a phenomenal campaigner, a real fighter, and that’s what the people of Basildon and Southend had in their corner.

While nobody can ever recall seeing Sir David without a broad, welcoming smile on his face, you underestim­ated him at your peril. Because behind that irresistib­ly warm beam lurked a steely determinat­ion to get things done.

Sir David never backed down and never took no for answer, no matter what the cause, whether he was battling for Brexit, demanding freedom for the people of Iran, supporting women with endometrio­sis, or courting support in the Westminste­r Dog of the Year contest.

His most famous campaign, raised week after week, year after year to any minister who would listen and several who would rather not, was to grant city status to Southend. A campaign that mattered immensely to

Sir David and to all those involved.

And of course, like so many causes picked up by Sir David over the years, it was a campaign that ended in success, with the Queen confirming that Southend will become a city as a lasting tribute to its great champion.

The tributes paid to Sir David over the past week will be dutifully recorded in Hansard and dusty newspaper archives. But his real legacy, his real memory, lies in a lifetime of selfless achievemen­t, a career spent giving a voice to the voiceless and protection to the vulnerable.

Sir David Amess made this a better country for us all, and no cowardly act of violence can ever take that away.

“He showed what a working class boy from Plaistow could achieve given the opportunit­y and fought like a tiger for others to do the same”

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