UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed in Parliament on Monday, October 18, that Queen Elizabeth II would accord “city status” on the town of Southend following the killing of Member of Parliament Sir David Amess on Friday.
Amess was first elected MP for Southend West in 1997, after representing Basildon in the House of Commons for 14 years from 1983. He engaged in a long-running campaign to see the Essex town of Southend become a city, and had raised the issue in Parliament on several occasions in recent years.
Johnson confirmed the decision in the House of Commons on Monday during a speech paying tribute to Amess. Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, speaking after Johnson, lauded the news as a “fitting tribute” to the late MP.
Amess in 2020 backed proposals for a “city status competition” to coincide with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022, which will mark the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne. He welcomed the competition’s launch in June 2021, tweeting that “Southend would undoubtedly be a fitting recipient of the honour.”
Amess was in attendance as Southend officially launched its bid for city status on September 18, less than a month before he was killed.
Speaking to radio station LBC on Sunday, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said he felt there was a “certain inevitability” about Southend becoming a city after Amess’s death. “Let me respect the mechanism for deciding it but say that I think it will be a very fitting tribute if it should come to pass,” Raab said.
The definition of a city in the UK is a place that has been granted city status by the monarch, according to the BBC. There are 69 cities in the UK – 51 in England, six in Wales, seven in Scotland, and five in Northern Ireland. The status offers only a sense of pride and has “no official benefits,” the BBC said. Credit: Parliamentlive.tv via Storyful