The PM told a packed chamber the attack on the Tory veteran had been ‘contemptible’ and struck at the ‘core’ of what it means to be an MP.
But he insisted that the fundamental functions of democracy would not be damaged by the murder of ‘one of the nicest, kindest and most gentle’ individuals ever to have sat in the House.
To cheers, Mr Johnson said Her Majesty had agreed that Southend will be upgraded to city status – something Sir David had tirelessly campaigned for over two decades.
A gap appeared to have been left on the green benches where Sir David typically sat. Parliament has cancelled almost all of its business today for tributes.
There will also be a service at Westminster afterwards so colleagues can pay their respects following the killing during a surgery in Sir David’s Southend constituency on Friday.
Mr Johnson said all MPs mourn with Sir David’s family, adding in the Commons: ‘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.’
Sir Keir Starmer added Labour’s condolences, saying Sir David was ‘a man and a politician we can all learn so much from’. He said making Southend a city was a ‘fitting tribute’.
A packed chamber was hushed as Speaker Lindsay Hoyle condemned the ‘despicable’ attack on the Tory veteraA packed chamber was hushed as Speaker Lindsay Hoyle condemned the ‘despicable’ attack on David Amess
MPs said prayers and observed a minute’s silence today as the Commons gathered to pay tribute to the Tory veteran
The Commons has cleared almost all its business today for the tributes to Sir David
Making Southend-on-Sea (pictured) a city was one of Sir David’s main goals as a politician and he famously pushed for it at every moment he could
Queen grants David Amess’s dream of city status for Southend
The Queen has granted Southend city status as tribute to murdered MP David Amess.
Sir David had campaigned for two decades for the Essex resort to be elevated, raising it in parliament at every opportunity.
Announcing the Queen’s approval in the House this afternoon, Boris Johnson said: ‘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.’
Keir Starmer said he was ‘so pleased’ at the announcement of Southend becoming a city, telling the Commons: ‘It is a fitting tribute to Sir David’s hard work, it really is.
With a population of around 183,000, Southend is a large coastal town and is home to the longest pleasure pier in the world, Southend Pier, measuring 1.33 miles.
It also has London Southend Airport less than two miles north of the town centre.
Announcing the Queen’s approval for elevating Southend to city status, Mr Johnson said: ‘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.
‘He was not a man in awe of this chamber, nor a man who sought patronage or advancement. He simply wanted to serve the people of Essex.’
Downing Street said the award of city status to Southend was a ‘very rare honour’.
‘This was an exceptional circumstance,’ the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said.
‘It is a very rare honour which Sir David campaigned passionately for.
‘He was a tireless champion of Southend, celebrating its achievements, the work of its residents and its thriving local businesses and diversity.’
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told the chamber earlier: ‘The circumstances of Sir David’s death are despicable and raise the most fundamental issues about how members of this House are able to perform their vital democratic responsibilities safely and securely.
‘In light of the ongoing police investigation I will not say more about the events, but I give the House my undertaking I will do everything in my power to ensure that these issues are treated with urgency and with the sense of priority that they deserve.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘His killing is a terrible and sad moment in our history, an attack on our democracy and an appalling tragedy.
‘We are all thinking of David Jr and his family.’
Conservative former minister Mark Francois described Sir David as his ‘best and oldest friend in politics’.
He proposed bringing forward ‘David’s law’ to crackdown on the online abuse suffered by MPs.
Former prime minister Theresa May said every MP had ‘lost a friend’ as she paid tribute to Sir David, telling the Commons: ‘Laughter, service, compassion – these are three of the words that spring to my mind when I think of David Amess.’
Mrs May said Sir David ‘made a difference to people’s lives’, before noting it was a ‘wonderful legacy’ that Southend will be given city status.
The Commons chaplain, Tricia Hillas, said: ‘May the bright memory of his rich life ever outshine the tragic manner of his death.’
Sir David’s heartbroken wife and children today visited the church where the Tory politician was stabbed to death by a suspected Islamist terrorist who was allegedly bent on murdering any MP he could get close to.
His widow Julia Amess wiped away tears as she read messages of love for her late husband outside the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea along with two of their five children this morning.
Mrs Amess, who also worked for her husband as a part-time caseworker for his Southend West constituency, came to mourn her husband hours after the family said that their hearts had been ‘shattered’ by his ‘cruel and violent death’ at a constituency surgery in Essex.
They said they could not understand why the ‘patriot and a man of peace’ was targeted by a knifeman he had never met.
Sir David walked his daughter Flo down the aisle in 2019 and she was at her mother’s side today with her American husband Shawn.
Flo’s sister Katie, an actress and model, also came to look at the flowers and mourn her father while supported by her husband, the Southend rapper Verses Bang.
But Alexandra, who the MP gave away at her wedding in August, daughter Sarah and son David Jr were not at the church today.
Julia cried as she viewed the huge number of floral tributes piled outside the church where her husband was stabbed to death. Family members comforted one another, with one placing an arm around her, and they stayed for around 15 minutes.
Sir David Amess (pictured) was stabbed to death at a constituency surgery on Friday
Flo Amess leads the family with her husband Shawn (far right) followed by her mother Julia (centre left) and her sister Katie (centre right with blonde hair) along withher husband, the Southend rapper Verses Bang (far left)
The huge numbers of flowers and tributes at Belfairs Methodist Church today, where Sir David was murdered on Friday
The Essex resort is a popular staycation resort and his the London Southend Airport less than two miles from its centre
The minister of Belfairs, Rev Clifford Newman, hugged Sir David’s widow during the family visit to the church. The six visitors bowed their heads and formed a semi-circle around the churchman as he gave a short private address.
It came as it was revealed the suspect arrested for murdering him forced to attend an official deradicalisation course after a teacher spotted his extremist views at least five years ago after becoming a ‘huge fan’ of hate preacher Anjem Choudary and his sickening YouTube sermons.
Ali Harbi Ali, 25, is being held by police on suspicion of murdering the veteran Conservative MP as he met with his Southend West constituents on Friday afternoon. It is believed the suspected Islamist terrorist may have chosen his victim at random having become obsessed with killing any MP.
In a heartbreaking statement his family called for people to ‘set aside hatred’, adding: ‘Nobody should die in that way. Nobody. Whatever one’s race, religious or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand. We are absolutely broken, but we will survive and carry on for the sake of a wonderful and inspiring man.’