Boris Johnson misses House of Commons minute’s silence for David Amess

Prime minister said to have been unable to attend as he was meeting with first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Tom Batchelor
Tuesday 19 October 2021 19:34
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<p>MPs pay tribute to Sir David Amess with a minute’s silence. Boris Johnson was missing from the front bench</p>

MPs pay tribute to Sir David Amess with a minute’s silence. Boris Johnson was missing from the front bench

Boris Johnson missed a minute’s silence held in the House of Commons to honour Conservative MP Sir David Amess due to a diary clash.

In a packed Commons chamber on Monday, MPs from across the political spectrum took part in a minute's silence and paid tribute to the Southend West MP, who was fatally stabbed in his constituency on Friday.

Footage from the chamber showed MPs, dressed in black and heads bowed, although Mr Johnson was conspicuous by his absence from the government front bench.

The prime minister was said to have been unable to attend as he was meeting with the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on Monday afternoon.

He is understood to have held a separate minute’s silence at that meeting before returning to the Commons’ chamber around an hour later to deliver his own remarks on Sir David.

Mr Johnson later joined politicians from all parties at an emotional church service for the Southend West MP.

Monday’s meeting between the prime minister and first ministers Nicola Sturgeon, Mark Drakeford and Paul Givan was held to discuss the UK’s Covid recovery and preparations for Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

They were joined by Michelle O’Neill, the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, Michael Gove, the minister for intergovernmental relations, and Sajid Javid, the health secretary.

The secretaries of state for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also participated virtually, along with other ministers from the devolved administrations.

Speaking in the Commons later on Monday, Mr Johnson said Sir David died doing what he believed was the most important part of an MP's job.

“That Sir David spent almost 40 years in this House, but not one day in ministerial office, tells everything about where his priorities lay,” the prime minister said.

“He was not a man in awe of this chamber, nor a man who sought patronage or advancement. He simply wanted to serve the people of Essex.

”And it was in the act of serving his constituents that he was so cruelly killed. In his recent memoir, Sir David called surgeries a part of the great British tradition of the people openly meeting their elected politicians.

“Even after the murder of Jo Cox and the savage attacks on Stephen Timms and Nigel Jones, he refused to accept that he should in any way deterred from speaking face-to-face with his constituents.

”And so when he died, he was doing what he firmly believed was the most important part of any MPs job - offering help to those in need.”

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