House of Representatives
19 October 2021
I also join with the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Home Affairs to offer my condolences and remarks about the tragic murder of Sir David Amess. Six days ago, Sir David tweeted: 'My next constituency surgery will be taking place on Friday 15th October' and he pinned that tweet. Like many of us who connect with voters, we often hold mobile offices, or surgeries as they're called in the United Kingdom. At this event he was fatally stabbed 17 times.
Sir David was one of British parliament's longest-serving MPs, who died at the age of 69. Though he spent more than half his life in the House of Commons without ever obtaining ministerial office, many of his colleagues have recently given tribute to his life and said he would have not wanted it anyway, as his focus has always been about the people of his electorate. He devoted his career to the promotion of his constituencies, first Basildon then, from 1997, Southend West, always dealing with voters' concerns. He had a very high local profile and was always willing to meet constituents, advertising his regular weekly surgeries in advance. Everybody in his electorate knew where he was. Sir David espoused a number of causes throughout his life, as a longstanding Eurosceptic and a committed Brexiteer, but it was his devotion to animal welfare which led him to become one of the few Tories to support the abolition of fox hunting. His manner was genial, friendly, and lacking in rancour or conceit. Interestingly, he had friends on all sides of the House of Commons. Almost every week in parliament since the day he was elected he would call for his local town of Southend to be made into a city, something he was very, very passionate about.
His family paid tribute to his strength and courage in their statement:
He was a patriot and a man of peace. So, we ask people to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all. This is the only way forward. Set aside hatred and work towards togetherness.
Whatever one's race, religious or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand.
As a family, we are trying to understand why this awful thing has occurred. Nobody should die in that way. Nobody.
Please let some good come from this tragedy.
We are absolutely broken, but we will survive and carry on for the sake of a wonderful and inspiring man.
Tragically, the stabbing comes five years after MP Jo Cox, aged 41, who was gunned down and stabbed to death in broad daylight. The Labour politician and mother was murdered by Thomas Mair, 53, who was sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole-life order. At the time, Jo's husband, Brendan Cox, said, 'Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself.'
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said this week
My heart goes out to David's wife and children, his staff, friends and constituents.
This is a dark and shocking day. The whole country will feel it acutely, perhaps the more so because we have, heartbreakingly, been here before.
Above all else, today I am thinking of David, of the dedicated public servant that he was and of the depth of positive impact he had for the people he represented. Informed by his faith, David had a profound sense of duty, that I witnessed first hand in parliament. His Catholicism was central to his political life and he was highly respected across Parliament, within the church, and in the Christian community.
Let us come together in response to these horrendous events. We will show once more that violence, intimidation and threats to our democracy will never prevail over the tireless commitment of public servants simply doing their jobs.
Sir David was doing his job, and his loss will be felt by many. My condolences to his wider extended family, members of the House of Commons and, of course, the people of the United Kingdom. May Sir David rest in peace.