Sir David Amess' murder violated sanctity of the church in which it occurred - PM

Southend is being made a city in Sir David's memory after he campaigned for this for many years.(Photo: David Amess)

The murder of Sir David Amess violated the sanctity of the church in which it occurred, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs on Monday.

The afternoon's business in the House of Commons was given over to paying tribute to Sir David after he was tragically killed on Friday.

The 69-year-old was stabbed to death inside a Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea in what is being treated as a terrorist attack.

There were cheers as Johnson shared that the Queen had approved city status for Southend as a tribute to Sir David, who spent years campaigning for this.

Paying tribute, Johnson said: "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."

His close friend Conservative MP Mark Francois drew laughter as he recalled Sir David's "legendary" lack of time-keeping.

But he also choked back tears as he called him a "great friend" and "the best bloke I ever knew", and asked for MPs' support in ensuring that "he will not have died in vain".

"He is now resting in the arms of the God he worshipped so devotedly his whole life," he said.

Fellow Southend MP James Duddridge recalled Sir David's humour and shared one funny anecdote in which the MP took a throat sweet out of his pocket while meeting the pope. People were having various items blessed at the time and the pope mistook the throat sweet for one of them.

"David got his timing wrong. The pope took the sweet, thinking it was a revered object to be blessed," said Duddridge.

From that time on, whenever Sir David recounted the story, he would pull out a sweet from his pocket and say: "This is the sweet that was blessed!"

"I suspect that there have been many sweets passed off as the holy sweet," said Duddridge.