English Town of Southend Will Become City in Memory of Slain British Lawmaker

By Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.
October 18, 2021 Updated: October 18, 2021

Queen Elizabeth II has agreed to grant city status to Southend after Sir David Amess, a long-time campaigner for the status, was killed on Friday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement to lawmakers on Monday when leading tributes to the slain member of Parliament.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said earlier on Monday that bestowing the title of city on the seaside town would be a “very fitting tribute” and “it feels like a certain inevitability,” following Home Secretary Priti Patel’s comment, saying the move would be a “wonderful tribute” to the MP’s 38 years of service.

Amess, a 69-year-old MP for Southend West, was fatally stabbed on Oct. 15 while meeting local voters at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, an incident police declared to be terrorism.

The Conservative MP was often seen in Westminster and on the campaign trail sporting “Make Southend a city” merchandise, including slogan-adorned baseball caps and face coverings.

Leading tributes in the House of Commons on Monday, Johnson praised the politician, who “simply wanted to serve the people of Essex” as a backbench Conservative.

Amess was survived by his wife and their five children—one son and four daughters.

The family on Sunday called on people to support the late MP’s campaigns and charity causes in his memory, including his long-term campaign to gain city status for Southend-on-Sea, an Essex town commonly referred to as Southend.

David Amess widow daughter
Julia Amess, the widow of Conservative MP Sir David Amess, holds one of their daughters as they view flowers and tributes left for her late husband at Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 18, 2021. (Aaron Chown/PA)

In an emotional statement, Amess’s family said their hearts were “shattered” after his “cruel and violent death,” but was given “so much comfort” by the “wonderful, wonderful tributes” paid to him, and strength by the overwhelming support from friends, his constituents, and the general public.

“We have realised from tributes paid that there was far, far more to David than even we, those closest to him, knew,” the family said, adding they’re “enormously proud” of Amess.

The Amess family asked people to support “the many charities he worked with” and campaigns including fundraising for a memorial to Dame Vera Lynn, and making Southend a city.

“In his memory, please show your support for this campaign,” they said.

The family described Amess as being “strong and courageous,” and “a patriot and a man of peace,” and asked people to “set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all.”

“Whatever one’s race, religious, or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand,” the statement reads.

Epoch Times Photo
Members of the Muslim community lay floral tributes at the scene of the fatal stabbing of Conservative British lawmaker David Amess, at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, a district of Southend-on-Sea, in southeast England on Oct. 16, 2021. (Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images)

After Amess was killed, the police arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of murder. He is detained under section 41 of the Terrorism Act.

The police did not identify the person arrested, as is standard practice in the UK. Suspects of crimes are usually named after they are charged.

According to The Sunday Times, the suspect arrested is British-born Ali Harbi Ali, whose father Harbi Ali Kullane is a former adviser to the prime minister of Somalia.

The newspaper said Kullane confirmed that Ali was in police custody, and said he was “very traumatised” by what happened.

“It’s not something that I expected or even dreamt of,” Kullane was quoted as saying.

PA contributed to this report.

Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.