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‘Today we can have a fresh start’: Speaker leads tributes to killed MP Sir David Amess

·5-min read
‘Today we can have a fresh start’: Speaker leads tributes to killed MP Sir David Amess

Sir Lindsay Hoyle has led tributes to Sir David Amess stressing his death has united MPs in grief and determination to defend democracy.

As MPs from across the United Kingdom were travelling to the Commons to remember Sir David, the Commons Speaker also called for a new politics where “hate and nastiness” are driven out. MPs will read tributes to the popular MP in the House of Commons from 2.30pm on Monday.

Sir Lindsay told how the last few days had been the “darkest weekend” following the fatal stabbing of the Tory MP for Southend West, on Friday–a family friend.

“David was a great friend to all of us,” he said, speaking on LBC Radio.

“Sir David brought warmth. He was a politician that loved his job, he got the best out of the job, that’s why he got so much out of constituents who loved him.

“He was popular all across the House.

 (PA)
(PA)

“He has done something that we would all love to do...he has united politicians and brought us together not just in grief but making sure that the democratic process survives.”

The Speaker emphasised: “My thoughts are with his wife Julia and family.

“It’s the darkest weekend I have had.”

Appealing for the killing to lead to a change in politics without the “hate and nastiness”, he added: “Today we can have a fresh start.

“Today we can have a legacy to Sir David where we have nice politics, a nicer Parliament, nicer politics across the world.

“We need to come together, think about the language we use.

“Let’s have political differences. I’m there to referee that but what we don’t need is the hate and the nastiness because if we are kinder to each other the public will be kinder, and the media of course has got a role to play in that.

“We have got to be united. Let’s leave a true legacy to Sir David Amess.”

Sir Lindsay, who carried out his constituency surgery following the attack on Sir David at such a meeting, stressed the importance to not “break the link” with constituents.

However, many MPs needed to be offered better protection.

“We need consistency across all police forces,” he explained.

“We do know that some police forces do turn up at some surgeries, but in others they don’t, sometimes they may ride past, sometimes they will make a note, sometimes there is no connection..what we have got to do is reconnect that.

“It’s best practice both for the police and ourselves, working more closely, working together.”

While Parliament was a “fortress”, guarded by heavily-armed police, he added that security also had to be extended for MPs and their staff “outside the gates of Westminster” and that is always going to be the “difficult part”.

MPs lined up from early Monday morning to pay tributes to Sir David, who was first elected to Parliament in 1983.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said Sir David was a “terrific man, just a great man…conviction politician, Mr Essex, Mr Southend who could speak to white van man but could also debate with a big hearted generosity of spirit, which meant he was not just well liked but also well respected across the House of Commons.

“There’s quite a lot we can learn from the way he conducted debate in the wider environment we are talking about. My heart goes out to all his family and friends.”

Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds told BBC Breakfast that Sir David Amess’s death “hasn’t sunk in”.

“I still have a sense of disbelief, really, about what’s happened,” the Labour MP for Torfaen said.

“It hasn’t really sunk in.”

He described the Conservative MP for Southend West as “a very kind and very generous man”.

“I first met David when I first came into Parliament in 2015,” he said.

“I hadn’t previously worked in Parliament and I was still finding my way around the place.

“David approached me to ask how I was and how I was settling in. That conversation captured the essence of David. He was a very kind and very generous man.”

Conservative MP Robert Halfon, Conservative described Sir David as “larger than life” and added he was “incredibly sad” about his death.

“I can’t express the feelings that a good, good person could die in this way,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“There will be a lot of people who want to say something about Sir David Amess, but it’s so important that we do this. We have to remember one of the great people in Parliament.”

For at least two hours, politicians were on Monday set to share their memories of Sir David after a morning of prayers and a minute’s silence at 2.30pm.

The Speaker was due will make a statement before Boris Johnson moves a motion for an adjournment, which will enable parliamentarians to open the tributes session, lasting until 5.30pm.

On Sunday evening, Sir David’s family described how their “hearts are shattered” after he was attacked while meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex on Friday.

In a statement published through the Metropolitan Police, his wife, four daughters and son said: “Strong and courageous is an appropriate way to describe David. 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.”

A 25-year-old man, understood to be Ali Harbi Ali, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of Sir David’s murder and remains in police custody.

He has been detained under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and detectives are expected to continue to question him until Friday after a warrant of further detention was granted.

The Sunday Times said the suspected killer’s father, Harbi Ali Kullane, who the newspaper described as a former adviser to the prime minister of Somalia, had confirmed his British-born son had been arrested.

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