The speech made by Theresa May, the former Prime Minister, in the House of Commons on 18 October 2021.
Laughter, service, compassion: these are three of the words that spring to my mind when I think of David Amess.
Laughter, because you could never have a conversation with David without laughter and smiling, whether that was because one of the outrageous stories that he was telling, perhaps about one of his colleagues or somebody else—[Laughter.] It was always smiles, always laughter, always fun around David.
Service, because he had an extraordinary record of dedicated service to his constituents. I suggest to anybody who wants to be a first-class constituency MP that they look at the example of David Amess. He was deeply embedded in his constituency and, as we all know, championed it on every possible occasion. I do not think that a question or speech from David went by in this House without his constituency being mentioned. But he did not just promote his constituency here in the House. He was a part of it: he understood it, he knew it, he was in the community, he was of the community, and he was respected and loved by the community. His death is tragic and the manner of his death appalling, but isn’t it fitting that his last acts were acts of service to his constituents?
And then there was David’s compassion, born out of and strengthened by his faith: compassion for the vulnerable; compassion for those in need. But he did not just talk about it; he acted. He changed laws. He went out there and made a difference to people’s lives, because he was also an accomplished parliamentarian and he knew that a Back Bencher who is dedicated and resolute can make a real difference.
To echo some of the comments that have been made today, first of all, I think it is a wonderful legacy for David that Southend is now a city. But we can also add to the legacy of David Amess by ensuring that in all our political debates and our political discourse we bring to those debates and that discourse the same respect, decency and compassion that were the symbols of his life. Because David Amess made a difference. His compassion made a difference to people outside of this House. His kindness made a difference to people inside this House. Our thoughts and prayers are with Julia and the family. Their loss is devastating. His constituency has lost a much respected and loved Member of Parliament, this House has lost a remarkable and valued parliamentarian, and every Member of this House has lost a friend. May he rest in peace.