Politicians have been urged to learn from the “brilliant” constituency MP Sir David Amess, as his life was celebrated during a funeral service in Southend.
Mourners paid their respects to the Southend West Tory MP during a private ecumenical service at St Mary’s Church in Prittlewell, with people lining the streets to pay their respects.
The father-of-five was stabbed to death while holding a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on October 15.
The devout Catholic’s friend and colleague Mark Francois delivered a eulogy, praising Sir David’s service to his constituents and the sense of humour of the man he branded the “original Essex cheeky chappy”.
In comments that come after Westminster was embroiled in a sleaze scandal, the Rayleigh and Wickford MP told those gathered: “Our electors employ us to represent them in a contract renewable every few years.
“We work for them and not the other way around, and no-one was ever more conscious of that than David Amess.
“Whatever one thinks of members of Parliament, and opinions do vary, in my experience MPs of all parties do genuinely try and help other people.
“However, collectively in recent years we have perhaps not always helped ourselves, and I humbly suggest today that we need to learn from that.
“But, boy, did David Amess honour the contract with his employers – and in his own inimitable style.”
He added: “Whatever the weaknesses of Parliament, David Amess was the living embodiment of all its strengths.”
The former minister said in his tribute that, despite the “awful tragedy” of Sir David’s death, the country should “keep calm and carry on” as that is “what he would have wanted us to do”.
In recognition of Sir David’s long-running campaign for Southend to be made a city finding posthumous success, Mr Francois said his fellow Essex MP had “won in the end”.
Former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, a friend of Sir David’s, read a statement on behalf of the Amess family, similar to the one released shortly after his death, asking people to “set aside hatred” and urging tolerance.
Sir David’s coffin, draped in a union flag, was carried by pallbearers from Southend Fire Service.
After the church service, they carried the coffin to a horse-drawn hearse for a procession around Southend.
Hundreds of people gathered outside Southend’s Civic Centre to pay their respects as the hearse, led by four black horses, paused in front of it.
Uniformed police officers bowed their heads as the hearse arrived and people applauded.
On Tuesday, a requiem mass will be held at Westminster Cathedral in London, where a message from the Pope will be shared.