Sir David Amess MP: Animal-lover, royalist and fierce Southend advocate

Conservative MP Sir David Amess. Credit: PA

Conservative MP Sir David Amess died on Friday 15 October after being stabbed several times while holding a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea.

The Southend West MP has been meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church, in Eastwood Road North, when the incident unfolded.

Following his death, Boris Johnson described Sir David as "one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics", while Keir Starmer described a man "so respected and so liked" across parliament.

A husband and father of five, tributes have flooded in for the MP from across the political spectrum.

If you ask anyone else in Parliament what they think of first about Sir David Amess, it is a fair to say the words Southend and city will be involved.

The Conservative MP served as an MP for 38 years, initially in Basildon from 1983 before he took on his role representing Southend West from 1997.

Community spirit, the proposed marina and the airport were among his arguments, which have continued in subsequent months.

As a strident supporter of the British monarchy, Sir David saw another opportunity in November 2020, as the Commons considered plans for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year.

He asked for a new statue of the Queen and for a city status competition to ensure Southend is finally elevated.

David Amess as a young MP in 1992

In March 2021, Sir David repeated his statue calls – insisting the Queen deserved one for being a “great” monarch.

His campaign for a memorial to Dame Vera Lynn on the White Cliffs of Dover also won support from a minister in May this year.

Away from his campaigning, Sir David announced in December 2019 he would run to be one of the three deputy speakers in the House of Commons.

Sir David Amess being made a Knight Bachelor of the British Empire by the Queen. Credit: PA

He ultimately missed out and continued with his support for Brexit.

On December 30 last year, he posted a photo of a carboard cut-out of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

He wrote: “Whilst Margaret didn’t live long enough to see this day, I am sure that she is rejoicing in heaven. At last we ‘got Brexit done’!”

Aside from Southend’s city status, one incident has also become associated with Sir David – much to his frustration.

During a Commons debate in July 2017, Sir David said it was an “absolute disgrace” that people continue to mock him for being duped by Brass Eye about a fake drug.

He labelled the tone of that year’s general election campaign “jolly disappointing”, explaining some on social media “take the mickey” out of him because of Cake – a creation of the satirical Channel 4 programme developed by comedian Chris Morris.

Sir David said youngsters and Channel 4 should feel “shame” for their actions as the 1997 episode followed the death of his then-constituent Leah Betts from an ecstasy overdose.

Sir David Amess leads the parliamentary pancake race in 2003.

Addressing a short debate on the future of Southend Hospital in 2017, Sir David spoke of the “rudeness” he experienced during the election campaign.

He said: “The things that people now say, young, middle-age or old, to we the politicians who take the blame for decisions of bureaucrats and others who are paid twice as much as we are, frankly, but the way they can use the word F, C and all the rest of it disgusts me.

Southend in Essex is always close to the heart of Sir David Amess

“So if you go on to the social media, you’ll see the mickey is taken out of me because of Cake.”

In the Brass Eye episode, Sir David was shown condemning Cake.

He described it as a “big yellow death bullet in the head of some poor user – or custard gannet as the dealers call them”.