UK

Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer lay flowers at David Amess murder scene in show of unity

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer have been pictured arriving at the scene of the brutal murder of Tory MP Sir David Amess this morning. 

Dressed in all black, the two party leaders walked side-by-side with flowers in hand as they approached the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. 

They were joined by Home Secretary Priti Patel and speaker of the House of Commons and Labour MP for Chorley Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who were also carrying wreaths. 

The Prime Minister made the surprise visit as he and other shocked MPs came to terms with the death of the 69 year old as he met constituents on Friday.

The four senior politicians walked together for the early morning and unannounced visit at 9am.

A convoy of cars brought the Prime Minister and the other politicians to the tape barricades. They did not make any statement to the assembled media.

Well wishers from the local community brought flowers to lay at the barricades set up across the road leading to the murder scene.

It comes after it was reported that the terror suspect arrested over the fatal stabbing of Sir David may have previously been referred to an anti-radicalisation programme.

The unnamed Briton of Somali descent, 25, brutally stabbed Sir David, 69, while he was holding a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Churchin Leigh-on-Sea, Essex Friday. 

Sir David, Tory MP for Southend West, is believed to have been stabbed 17 times, reports the Sun. He died at the scene.

Police revealed they were treating the killing as a terror attack ‘linked to Islamist extremism.’  

Boris Johnson, Sir Keir Starmer, Priti Patel and Sir Lyndsay Hoyle arrive to the scene of Sir David Amess’s killing to pay tribute Saturday 

Dressed in black, the leading politicians from both sides of the political spectrum carried wreaths to lay at the site in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

Dressed in black, the leading politicians from both sides of the political spectrum carried wreaths to lay at the site in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

Boris Johnson stepping away from the scene of the death of Sir David Amess after having paid tribute with flowers

Boris Johnson stepping away from the scene of the death of Sir David Amess after having paid tribute with flowers 

The Met Police confirmed that the killing of Southend West Sir David Amess (pictured) is being treated as a terror incident 'with links to Islamist extremism' as a British man with Somali heritage remains in police custody on suspicion of murder

The Met Police confirmed that the killing of Southend West Sir David Amess (pictured) is being treated as a terror incident ‘with links to Islamist extremism’ as a British man with Somali heritage remains in police custody on suspicion of murder

A much-loved MP and a proud father of five, Sir David gave away his daughter Alex, 31, in marriage just weeks ago

A much-loved MP and a proud father of five, Sir David gave away his daughter Alex, 31, in marriage just weeks ago

Emergency services at the scene near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North on Friday

Emergency services at the scene near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North on Friday

Death of David Amess: What we know so far 

– The Southend West MP was fatally injured at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex at midday on Friday and died at the scene.

– Essex Police said the response of the emergency services to the incident was immediate and officers arrived at the scene within minutes.

– A 25-year-old British man of Somali heritage was arrested immediately at the scene on suspicion of murder and remains in custody. Police say a knife was recovered. 

– The Met Police have confirmed their counter-terror team is leading the investigation and that the incident has formally been declared a terror incident.

-Police say the attack has been ‘linked to Islamist extremism’. 

-Two homes in London have been searched in connection to the attack. Detectives are not looking for any other suspects. 

– Home Secretary Priti Patel has asked all police forces to review security arrangements for MPs ‘with immediate effect’. 

– Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sir David was ‘one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics’, while former Conservative prime minister Theresa May said his death was ‘heartbreaking’, adding: ‘A tragic day for our democracy.’

But they have yet to confirm whether or not the suspect was on counter-terrorism’s radar, with initial investigations indicating he was not known to the authorities. 

However sources told the Guardian that the suspect has the same details as someone who was referred to the PREVENT programme – set up by counterterrorism bosses to stop vulnerable people from being radicalised by extremists. 

MI5 are also said to be taking part in the investigation and will be looking into whether the suspect was part of the scheme. 

PREVENT involves local authorities and police and sees potential targets for radicalisation referred and assessed. If they are deemed a terrorism risk, they may be referred to the Home Office’s Channel Programme or given help from a mentor. In some cases police will intervene. 

Mail Online has contacted the Metropolitan Police for comment. 

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer were both seen arriving at the scene of the killing Saturday morning to pay tribute.  

The Met earlier said it was carrying out searches on two homes in the London area as part of their investigation, but that at this time, the evidence suggests the suspect worked alone. 

They are also searching his laptop and phone and quizzing his associates to establish any potential extremism links.  

The force’s Counter Terrorism Command unit are working with officers from the Eastern Region Specialist Operations Unit (ERSOU) and Essex Police.

It is understood the suspect lived in Sir David’s Southend West constituency after his family came to the UK from Somalia in the 1990s.  

The shock killing – just five years after the murder of MP Jo Cox – has re-ignited the debate about MPs’ security and whether or not they should operate face-to-face meetings with constituents without special measures in place. 

Labour MP and speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle held his own surgery last night and told BBC Two’s Newsnight that the terrorists ‘will not win’. 

The MP for Chorley, stressed the importance of face-to-face surgeries and warned against a knee-jerk reaction following Sir David’s death. 

He said: ‘Those people who do not share our values or share democracy, they will not win and we won’t let them win. 

‘We will continue to look at security, that is ongoing and it will continue.’  

However Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood suggested that it was time for such surgeries to come to an end. 

He told BBC’s Radio 4: ‘I would recommend that no MP has direct surgery – you can move to Zoom, there are other ways, you can achieve an awful lot over the telephone, you can get things moving far faster than having to wait for a surgery date.’ 

More than 600 MPs will be contacted by police today to go over their security details after Home Secretary Priti Patel ordered an immediate review following a meeting with intelligence and other agencies. 

‘The home secretary has asked all police forces to review security arrangements for MPs with immediate effect and will provide updates in due course,’ a spokesperson for Ms Patel said.

According to the Times, Whitehall officials have had concerns about a possible lone-wolf attack by people who have become radicalised during lockdown. 

Tributes have been pouring in for Sir David while a vigil was held at St Peters Church in Leigh-on-Sea last night.      

John Lamb, a Conservative councillor who rushed to the church when he heard what had happened, said: ‘He was doing a surgery in the Methodist church here to speak to local people and pick up on their problems.

‘I’m told that when he went in for his surgery there were people waiting to see him, and one of them literally got a knife out and just began stabbing him.’

At 12.05pm yesterday, the police were called and said they were on the scene ‘in minutes’. Witnesses described how the knifeman made no attempt to leave the scene and waited for police to arrive at which point members of the public described him as being compliant.

Kevin Buck, the deputy chairman of the local constituency association, told the Telegraph: ‘I was told that he stabbed Sir David and that he just waited there in the church hall until the police arrived. There was no attempt to flee.’  

Sir David collapsed in a pool of blood and paramedics battled for more than an hour to save his life, but sadly he died just before 3pm.

A much-loved MP and a proud father of five, Sir David gave away his daughter Alex, 31, in marriage just weeks ago.  

Yesterday the family of Mrs Cox, who was shot and stabbed outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire, by a Right-wing terrorist in June 2016, said Sir David’s murder was an ‘attack on democracy itself’.

Mrs Cox’s husband Brendan said: ‘Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself.

‘There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets.’

Mrs Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater, who has replaced her as the Labour MP for Batley and Spen, said her partner had asked her to step down from politics.

She said: ‘Totally shocked by what has happened to think that something so horrific could happen again to another MP, to another family.

‘And scared and frightened – a real rollercoaster of emotions.

‘I find myself now working as a politician and trying to do good things for people and it’s really important you get good people in public life, but this is the risk we are all taking and so many MPs will be scared by this.

‘My partner came home and he said he didn’t want me to do it any more because the next time that phone goes, it could be a different conversation.’ 

MPs from across the board have called for Southend to be made a city in memory of Sir David – a cause that has long been championed by the Southend West MP.

The MP would regularly raise the matter at Prime Minister’s Questions or during debates at the Commons, often to the amusement of his colleagues, and as recently as this week told BBC Essex his plan was to ‘wear them down until they say yes’.

Pictured: the union flag flies at half mast in Downing Street, London, in the wake of the horrific attack this afternoon

Pictured: the union flag flies at half mast in Downing Street, London, in the wake of the horrific attack this afternoon

Pictured: Essex Police remain on scene at Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Conservative MP Sir David Amess has died after he was stabbed several times at a constituency surgery this afternoon

Pictured: Essex Police remain on scene at Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Conservative MP Sir David Amess has died after he was stabbed several times at a constituency surgery this afternoon

Judith McMahon, a close family friend of MP David Amess, mourns at a church after Amess was stabbed during surgery

Judith McMahon, a close family friend of MP David Amess, mourns at a church after Amess was stabbed during surgery

Constituent Ruth Verrinder (R) and former mayor Judith McMahon (L) gather their thoughts before lighting a candle

Constituent Ruth Verrinder (R) and former mayor Judith McMahon (L) gather their thoughts before lighting a candle

Police at Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Conservative MP Sir Amess died

Police at Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Conservative MP Sir Amess died

A police cordon at the scene of a crime where MP for Southend West, Sir David Amess, was stabbed to death in Leigh-on-Sea

A police cordon at the scene of a crime where MP for Southend West, Sir David Amess, was stabbed to death in Leigh-on-Sea

Floral tributes are placed near the scene of a fatal stabbing as police officers stand guard near the Belfairs Methodist Church

Floral tributes are placed near the scene of a fatal stabbing as police officers stand guard near the Belfairs Methodist Church

A vigil is held for MP David Amess who was stabbed during constituency surgery, at Saint Peter's Church in Leigh-on-Sea

A vigil is held for MP David Amess who was stabbed during constituency surgery, at Saint Peter’s Church in Leigh-on-Sea

A man prays as people attend a mass in memory of Conservative British lawmaker David Amess, who was fatally stabbed

A man prays as people attend a mass in memory of Conservative British lawmaker David Amess, who was fatally stabbed

A woman wipes her tears as people attend a mass in memory of Conservative British lawmaker David Amess this evening

A woman wipes her tears as people attend a mass in memory of Conservative British lawmaker David Amess this evening

Much-loved: A floral tribute left at the scene thanks Sir David Amess for his work to support Surfers Against Sewage

Much-loved: A floral tribute left at the scene thanks Sir David Amess for his work to support Surfers Against Sewage

Chief constable BJ Harrington said the MP was 'simply dispensing his duties when his life was horrifically cut short'

Chief constable BJ Harrington said the MP was ‘simply dispensing his duties when his life was horrifically cut short’

Police contact ALL MPs to check on their security as politicians warn ‘we can’t go on like this’ – but what security do MPs have in their constituencies? 

Police are contacting all MPs to check on their security in the wake of the killing of Sir David Amess, the Commons Speaker has said.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle spoke to Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel following the fatal stabbing of the 69-year-old MP in his Southend West constituency.

Sir David is the second MP to be killed in five years, after the murder of Jo Cox by a far-right extremist in 2016.

Speaking to BBC2’s Newsnight, Sir Lindsay said: ‘It is about doing the right things working with the police constabularies right across the United Kingdom because it is about joining that up.

‘I know that they are contacting all the MPs to check about their safety, to reassure them, because in the end we have got to make sure that is a priority.’

He added: ‘Those people who do not share our values or share democracy, they will not win and we won’t let them win. We will continue to look at security, that is ongoing and it will continue.’  

Even before the murder of Jo Cox in 2016 concern was growing over the threat to MPs away from Parliament.

The improvements were championed by Sir Lindsay Hoyle during his time as Deputy Speaker, and he has continued the drive since taking over from John Bercow.

Every politician is currently thought to have had a security assessment in the constituency, and they get a ‘standard’ package such as alarm systems, shutters, CCTV and personal alarms for staff. 

If the police deem it necessary MPs can also access ‘enhanced’ measures. The authorities do not specify what that can include, but it is thought to include secure transport and guards.

The costs are met through a central contract with Chubb, organised by the Commons.  

However, there are concerns that most of the measures are applied to offices and homes, while surgeries often happen at churches or other buildings that might not be secure. 

Michael Fabricant, MP for Lichfield, said: ‘David campaigned for so many wonderful things including animal welfare and to make Southend a city. That would be a fitting memorial.’

In response to a tweet suggesting Southend be given city status, Charlotte Nichols, the Labour MP for Warrington North, said: ‘Absolutely; I can’t think of a better way to honour his memory.’ 

Phillip Miller, owner of Southend’s Adventure Island theme park, also said turning the town into a city would be ‘a fitting epitaph’ for the late MP. 

Sir David is the sixth MP to be killed since the Second World War, and the ninth in history.

It is not known whether his wife Julia, who is his part-time caseworker, was in the church at the time.

The MP, who was an ardent Brexiteer, was seen laughing and speaking to people on the steps of the church just 15 minutes before he was killed.

Sir David wrote last year about the importance of meeting constituents despite what had happened to Mrs Cox.

He wrote: ‘She was a young woman with a family going about her duties, as we all do, completely unaware of the threat that she faced.

‘While it is often said that good can come out of someone’s death, it is difficult to see what good can come from this senseless murder’.

He also admitted he had been threatened at his home: ‘I myself have over the years experienced nuisance from the odd member of the general public at my own property.

‘We regularly check our locks and many others have CCTV cameras installed but probably the most significant change has been with constituency surgeries.’

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said MPs were in shock at what he described as an attack on democracy. He said he wanted to see a greater police presence at constituency surgeries.

But he said it was vital that voters were able to engage directly with MPs.

Sir Lindsay said: ‘David was a lovely man, devoted to his family, to parliament and his Southend West constituency.

‘He was well liked by members and the staff alike, and during his almost four decades here, built a reputation for kindness and generosity.

‘We will need to discuss and examine MPs’ security and any measures to be taken.’

Yesterday the Prime Minister paid tribute as there was an outpouring of grief from other MPs.

Boris Johnson said: ‘He was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics.’

Prince William and Kate said they are ‘shocked and saddened’ by the incident which saw the veteran MP killed while holding a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, this afternoon.

In a statement, the couple said: ‘We are shocked and saddened by the murder of Sir David Amess, who dedicated 40 years of his life to serving his community.

David Stanley (centre left) with Sir David Amess

David Stanley (centre left) with Sir David Amess

Pictured: David Stanley (centre left) with Sir David Amess promoting the Music Man Project, a music education service based in Southend for children and adults with learning disabilities, which was championed by David throughout his tenure as MP

Police officers attend following the stabbing of MP Sir Amess as he met with constituents at a constituency surgery

Police officers attend following the stabbing of MP Sir Amess as he met with constituents at a constituency surgery

Forensic teams and officers were at the scene well into the evening as they considered their investigation into the attack

Forensic teams and officers were at the scene well into the evening as they considered their investigation into the attack

Essex Police at the scene in Southend on Sea on Friday where MP David Amess had been stabbed to death in a daylight attack

Essex Police at the scene in Southend on Sea on Friday where MP David Amess had been stabbed to death in a daylight attack

Officers attend following the stabbing of Conservative MP David Amess as he met with constituents at a constituency surgery

Officers attend following the stabbing of Conservative MP David Amess as he met with constituents at a constituency surgery

Sir David became the sixth MP to be killed recently and the first since the death of Jo Cox in 2016. Pictured: the scene

Sir David became the sixth MP to be killed recently and the first since the death of Jo Cox in 2016. Pictured: the scene

Pictured: Police and paramedics are said to have treated his wounds for more than an hour before he passed away

Pictured: Police and paramedics are said to have treated his wounds for more than an hour before he passed away

Pictured: Armed police at the scene after the stabbing happened next to an A-board advertising the MP was in the building

Pictured: Armed police at the scene after the stabbing happened next to an A-board advertising the MP was in the building

‘Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues. W&C’

The death of Sir David also brought tributes from across the world, including from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

He said in a post on Twitter: ‘I am shocked by the news that British MP Sir David Amess was stabbed and killed today.

‘My thoughts are with his family and loved ones, and on behalf of all Canadians and Parliamentarians, I offer my deepest condolences to his colleagues and all who are mourning this loss.’

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison echoed Mr Trudeau’s statement, saying: ‘Shocked and terribly saddened by the awful loss of Sir David Amess, stabbed and killed in the UK while doing his job, serving his local community as an MP.

An image of murdered British Conservative lawmaker David Amess is displayed near the altar in St Peters Catholic Church

An image of murdered British Conservative lawmaker David Amess is displayed near the altar in St Peters Catholic Church

People attend a vigil to murdered British Conservative lawmaker David Amess in St Peters Catholic Church in Leigh-on-Sea

People attend a vigil to murdered British Conservative lawmaker David Amess in St Peters Catholic Church in Leigh-on-Sea

‘Our deepest sympathies and condolences to Sir David, all his colleagues in the UK Parliament and Sir David’s family and friends.

Australia’s leader of the opposition, Anthony Albanese, also added his sympathy, saying: ‘Shocked and saddened to hear the news that Sir David Amess MP was killed in the UK.

‘On behalf of Australian Labor I extend my deep and sincere condolences.’

At a vigil last night more than 100 people packed into St Peter’s Catholic Church in Leigh-on-Sea.

Rev Clifford Newman, the vicar at the Methodist church where the murder took place, said: ‘My thoughts and prayers are with David and Julia, his wife, and the family and the many people he has helped in the past.

‘The local Baptist minister told me that he’s helped refugees.’

A second vigil took place at St Peters Catholic Church where Father Jeff Woolnough, who called Sir David ‘Mr Southend’, described the MP as a ‘fine gentleman and a knight of the realm’ who was much loved by all members of the community.

First elected in Thatcher’s 1983 landslide, Sir David was one of the longest-serving Tory MPs.

He never made it: MP’s assailant queued to see him… then launched his savage attack

By Sam Greenhill, Arthur Martin, Mario Ledwith and Neil Sears for the Daily Mail

It was as sudden as it was savage. A man pulled out a knife and ‘just began stabbing’ David Amess.

The ferocious attack left the 69-year-old veteran Conservative MP gasping for life on the floor of the church hall.

He was so grievously injured by ‘more than a dozen’ stab wounds that medical staff battling to save him could not stabilise him enough to take him to hospital. After two desperate hours, a helicopter air ambulance which had landed in a nearby field took off again, empty.

Sir David was a committed constituency MP who had devoted his life to meeting local residents and trying to help with their problems.

When he arrived for his regular surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, shortly before midday, several were waiting to see him. John Lamb, a Conservative councillor who rushed to the church when he heard what had happened, said: ‘He was doing a surgery in the Methodist church here to speak to local people and pick up on their problems.

Armed police swamped the Belfairs Methodist Church as the MP was being treated for his wounds on the floor inside

Armed police swamped the Belfairs Methodist Church as the MP was being treated for his wounds on the floor inside

MP sister of Jo Cox says her partner told her he wants her to quit in wake of Sir David stabbing

The MP whose sister Jo Cox was murdered said her partner has asked her to step down after Sir David Amess was killed.

Kim Leadbeater, Labour MP for Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire, said she felt ‘frightened’ following the attack on the Tory MP at a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, in Essex, on Friday.

And her family, who lost Ms Cox when she was murdered moments before she arrived at a constituency surgery in 2016, knew the pain that Sir David’s loved-ones will have to endure.

She said: ‘My partner came home and he said he didn’t want me to do it any more because the next time that phone goes, it could be a different conversation.

‘There are so many layers to this. At the heart of it are David’s family and friends.

‘I know for them now that their lives will never be the same again, they will think about this every single day for the rest of their lives.

‘Even David’s staff – so many other people today will have been out there trying to do the right thing, trying to do a really important job in public life, and this happens.

‘I cannot believe that this has happened. It feels very raw for me.

‘I’m told that when he went in for his surgery there were people waiting to see him, and one of them literally got a knife out and just began stabbing him. He was with a female member of staff from his constituency office and another female member of staff from his parliamentary office.’

Speaking outside the church, the shocked councillor said: ‘It has been two hours since it happened, and they are still working on him – he hasn’t been taken to hospital yet.

‘He’s a family man, he’s got four daughters and a son.’

Another witness said the MP had been ‘stabbed quite a few times’, while Sky News reported there were ‘more than a dozen’ knife wounds. The brutal assault on Sir David was over in seconds, but the knifeman does not appear to have been in a hurry to leave the murder scene.

Terrified members of the public dialled 999. Lee Jordison, 40, who works in nearby Hicks butchers, said: ‘It is very shocking. I’ve worked up here and lived up here all my life, and never seen anything like this – it’s terrible.’

Officers from Essex Police were the first to arrive, within five minutes, followed moments later by an armed response unit. They found the 25-year-old suspect still inside the church hall, and also recovered a knife. The alleged killer was led out to a police van.

Anthony Finch, 38, an electrician, said: ‘We arrived to do some work on the adjacent building. I saw an upset lady on the phone saying ‘You need to arrive quickly – he’s still in the building’.

‘I went into the client’s house, and when I came back out there were loads of armed police, and overhead there was an air ambulance as well as a police helicopter. I saw the suspect get put into a police van, get taken away and then they cordoned the whole road, and pushed us all down the road.

‘What we then heard was that it was David Amess. He’s very well thought of in our area – he fights for good causes and sticks up for people around here.’

A member of the Southend West Conservative Association lowers the flag to half mast outside the Constituency office

A member of the Southend West Conservative Association lowers the flag to half mast outside the Constituency office

Tragic loss: A member of the public leaves a bunch of flowers at a police cordon near the scene of the fatal stabbing of Sir David Amess at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, a district of Southend-on-Sea, in south-east England

Tragic loss: A member of the public leaves a bunch of flowers at a police cordon near the scene of the fatal stabbing of Sir David Amess at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, a district of Southend-on-Sea, in south-east England

Flowers at the scene alongside a note reading 'RIP. Such a gentleman xxx' near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea

Flowers at the scene alongside a note reading ‘RIP. Such a gentleman xxx’ near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea

Many of Sir David's constituents remembered his dedication to the community in Southend where he served for decades

Many of Sir David’s constituents remembered his dedication to the community in Southend where he served for decades

As word spread, a Roman Catholic priest, Father Jeffrey Woolnough, arrived at the police cordon stretching across tree-lined Eastwood Road North, offering to administer the last rites to the devoutly Catholic MP. He said: ‘The officers said that because it was a crime scene, and also the nature of the scene, it just wasn’t possible.’

Conservative councillor David Garston described Sir David as ‘probably one of the best constituency MPs in the country’, and said: ‘Because he was so accessible, and because he was everywhere, he obviously left himself vulnerable and didn’t think twice about it.

‘You couldn’t get very far [with him] because he’d stop every hundred yards to talk to somebody.’ Another local councillor, James Courtenay, said that surgeries were the MP’s passion and a scheduled hour-long session with constituents often stretched to four or five hours.

Sir David was meant to have been giving a speech at a dinner for the local Conservative association last night in nearby Rochford. Instead, floral tributes were being laid and more than 100 locals attended a vigil. One card left on flowers at the scene read simply: ‘Sir David Amess – RIP –such a gentleman.’

Ben-Julian Harrington, Essex Police’s chief constable, said that officers and paramedics had ‘worked extremely hard to save Sir David’.

Crusader of backbenches who loved Strictly – but not Eurovision… and whose talismanic victory in Basildon in 1992 first told Britain that Major, not Kinnock, would be PM

By David Wilkes for the Daily Mail 

He was known to colleagues as ‘Basildon man’ – and not just because he was a constituency MP through and through.

Sir David Amess first entered political folklore during the 1992 election when his famously Tory Essex seat was expected to fall to Neil Kinnock’s Labour, who many thought was certain to oust John Major’s government.

Yet the moment Basildon flashed up blue, and Sir David’s infectious smile peered out from television screens, Conservatives breathed a deep sigh of relief in the knowledge that the Welsh windbag’s dream of becoming Prime Minister was at an end.

For that reason alone, this genial father of five will always hold a precious place in Tory hearts.

Family man: David beams proudly with his son, also David, and daughter Katie while wife Julia cradles baby Alexandra in 1990

Family man: David beams proudly with his son, also David, and daughter Katie while wife Julia cradles baby Alexandra in 1990

Kind, genial soul: When Sir David was knighted in 2015, he dressed head to toe in armour and rode on horseback to celebrate

Kind, genial soul: When Sir David was knighted in 2015, he dressed head to toe in armour and rode on horseback to celebrate

In a poignant tribute, Father Woolnough, leading the service, said: 'He carried with him that great east London spirit of having no fear and being able to talk to people and the level they're at. Not all politicians I would say are good at that.'

Members of the church and local community members attended the short-notice vigil this evening, just hours after the MPs death

In a poignant tribute, Father Woolnough, leading the service, said: ‘He carried with him that great east London spirit of having no fear and being able to talk to people and the level they’re at. Not all politicians I would say are good at that.’ Members of the church and local community members attended the short-notice vigil this evening, just hours after the MPs death

Tonight a group of 80 mourners have gathered to attend a vigil in nearby St Peters Catholic Church to pay their respects

Tonight a group of 80 mourners have gathered to attend a vigil in nearby St Peters Catholic Church to pay their respects

David Amess, the Tory veteran first elected in Thatcher’s 1983 landslide who fought for Brexit and campaigned to ban fox-hunting 

David Amess and wife Julia, with their fourth child, baby daughter Alexandra. They are pictured with two of their other children, David and Katherine

David Amess and wife Julia, with their fourth child, baby daughter Alexandra. They are pictured with two of their other children, David and Katherine

David Amess was one of the longest-serving MPs on the Tory benches, having first been elected in Margaret Thatcher’s 1983 landslide.

The married father-of-five was known as a staunch right-winger, having been a Eurosceptic for years before the referendum campaign.

The 69-year-old has been an opponent of same-sex marriage and anti-abortion, but also took some less traditional Conservative positions – including campaigning against fox-hunting.

Despite his true-blue credentials he was popular across the political divide, known as a family man and a hard-working constituency MP.

One of his four daughters with wife Julia, Katie, is an actress and model who was named Miss Essex in 2008.

Sir David also came to public attention in 1997 when he was tricked into condemning a made up drug called ‘Cake’ on the satirical TV programme Brass Eye. 

The MP had never been a minister during his near-four decade stint in parliament, although he was briefly a ministerial aide. 

However, he held a number of important behind-the-scenes roles – which were rewarded when he was knighted in 2015 for political and public service. 

Sir David pictured with his pet Vivienne when they entered the Westminster Dog of the Year competition

Sir David pictured with his pet Vivienne when they entered the Westminster Dog of the Year competition

Sir David was a member of the Health Committee, and also served on the Administration Committee – which oversees the Parliamentary facilities such as catering. 

He wa currently on the ‘Panel of Chairs’ at the Commons, making him one of the senior MPs who fill in for Speaker Lindsay Hoyle chairing debates.

Sir David was educated at a grammar school in London and then Bournemouth University, before becoming a recruitment consultant.

He contested and won Basildon for the Tories in 1983, when Mrs Thatcher trounced Michael Foot to secure an 144 majority.

However, when the seat was redrawn in 1997 he saw it would inevitably be taken by Labour, and was selected for Southend West.

He still holds the seat with a majority of more than 14,000.

But to Parliamentary colleagues, there was so much more to him than that, personal qualities that made him a vastly popular figure across the political divide.

He was a kind, genial soul, always quick to raise a laugh in the Commons. Watching this deceptively charismatic figure on his feet in the chamber, it was virtually impossible not to take a shine to him.

Rarely, if ever, when called by the Speaker did his polite question not concern his beloved Southend. A long and much-loved campaign to make the Essex seaside town a city now sadly remains unfulfilled.

Even Sir David’s Early Day Motions could raise a giggle around the Commons tea room.

One saluted Ann Widdecombe and Anton du Beke on their ‘achievement in putting a smile on the nation’s faces with their performances’ after their exit from Strictly Come Dancing in 2010.

Another congratulated Dame Helen Mirren – who went to school in his Southend West constituency – on her Oscars triumph in 2007.

The Eurovision song contest, on the other hand, brought out the Brexiteer in him. It was, he claimed, an event ‘designed to humiliate the UK’.

But on the whole, the glitz and glamour of the showbiz world appeared to delight him.

And why wouldn’t it? 

His daughter Katie is a former Miss Essex who went on to become a Bafta-nominated actress and appeared in Hollywood blockbusters such as a Harry Potter film and Captain America: Civil War.

Born in Plaistow (then in Essex, now east London) and raised a Roman Catholic, Sir David was educated at St Bonaventure’s grammar school in Forest Gate and then Bournemouth College of Technology, where he earned a degree in economics and government.

His first job was working as a primary school teacher in London’s East End, teaching at St John the Baptist primary school in Bethnal Green for a year in 1970-71.

He then spent a short time as an underwriter before becoming a recruitment consultant.

By 1983 he was a Tory parliamentary candidate and entered the Commons partly as a result of Margaret Thatcher’s wildly popular policy of letting council tenants buy their homes, a measure that greatly appealed to the citizens of Basildon.

He married his wife Julia in the same year and they went on to have five children – a son and four daughters.

His friend and fellow MP Jerry Hayes, who entered Parliament in the very same year as the Conservative member for the neighbouring constituency of Harlow, says that Sir David never seriously sought high government office. ‘He always believed his true vocation was to represent his constituents in Essex, something he did for 38 years with diligence, skill and good humour,’ he says.

‘David liked to be out and about, pounding the streets of his constituency, speaking up for those who needed his help and advice.

‘Not for him the bullet-proof limousine and a battalion of special advisers. His political outlook was that of a slightly old-fashioned parliamentarian. He spoke up for the ordinary man and woman in his constituency, and of course for animals, about which he cared passionately.

‘I am sorry to say it was precisely this selfless determination that placed him in mortal danger yesterday, and cost him his life.’

During his near four-decade stint in Parliament, Sir David was briefly a ministerial aide, but he held a number of important behind-the-scenes roles and was knighted in 2015 for political and public service.

Politics-wise, Sir David was a staunch Right-winger, having been a Eurosceptic for years before the referendum was held.

It is true that some of his beliefs might be considered deeply unfashionable these days.

The 69-year-old was an opponent of same-sex marriage and, as a devout mass-going Catholic, strongly anti-abortion.

But being the maverick he was, he also took some less traditional Conservative positions, being one of very few Tories to campaign against fox hunting. Controversial viewpoints these may have been, but they never appeared to dull his popularity throughout Westminster. 

Committed: Sir David, pictured with PM Boris Johnson, was known for his devotion to his constituency

Committed: Sir David, pictured with PM Boris Johnson, was known for his devotion to his constituency

Animal lover: MP, who campaigned against fox hunting, with pet in front of Houses of Parliament

Animal lover: MP, who campaigned against fox hunting, with pet in front of Houses of Parliament

In a sign of the affection in which he was held among MPs, Corbynite Paula Sherriff, who was ousted during the 2019 election, broke down in tears on the radio yesterday upon news of Sir David’s death.

‘I loved him,’ Miss Sherriff told Shelagh Fogarty on LBC. ‘David was a wonderful, wonderful man – I have lost a friend today.’

Conservative MP for Harlow, Robert Halfon, also paid tribute to Sir David as ‘a wonderful man’ who was funny, kind and ‘cared about the most disadvantaged in our communities’ and ’embodies Essex’. The fun side of his character often shone through. On December 30 last year, he posted a photo of a cardboard cut-out of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on Twitter.

He wrote: ‘Whilst Margaret didn’t live long enough to see this day, I am sure that she is rejoicing in heaven. At last we ‘got Brexit done’!’

The Iron Lady put in another surprise appearance this summer when Sir David brought the cut-out to his daughter Alexandra’s wedding.

One episode he preferred to forget occurred in 1997. He was tricked into condemning a made-up drug called ‘Cake’ on the satirical TV programme Brass Eye, developed by comedian Chris Morris.

Pictured: Tributes at the scene near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

Pictured: Tributes at the scene near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

Much loved: Flowers and a balloon left at the scene, following the stabbing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess

Much loved: Flowers and a balloon left at the scene, following the stabbing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess

Last night local councillor James Courtenay paid tribute to his late local MP saying he was ‘a hardcore constituency MP who decided many years ago that he wasn’t looking for career advancement in Westminster’.

Other local leaders also paid tribute to the dedicated politician.

Margaret Borton, Mayor of Southend-on-Sea, says: ‘Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Sir David. The tragic news today has shocked us all.

‘Sir David was a dedicated Member of Parliament and servant to the local community.

‘I don’t think I can put into words just how devastating this is.’

Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend Council, says: ‘I am profoundly shocked by the news and my thoughts are with Sir David’s family and friends at this awful time.

‘Sir David was a great advocate of Southend-on-Sea, cared deeply about the community and will be sorely missed This really is a terrible day for the whole community of Southend-on-Sea.’

Tony Cox, leader of the Conservative group on Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, says: ‘We are all shocked and saddened by the death of Sir David Amess.

‘He was a great man, a great MP, a respected parliamentarian and respected by his residents. What we cannot lose sight of here is that a wife has been robbed of a husband and five children have been robbed of a father.

‘He was a passionate believer in the right of life and it’s poignant that his life has been so cruelly taken away. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.’ 

Surgeries were ‘his passion’ and a two-hour session could often stretch to four or five hours, Mr Courtenay added.

True to form, Sir David was meant to have been at a dinner for the local Conservative association last night at the Saxon Hall, Rochford, where he was due to give a speech.

It was a speech, tragically, he never got to make.

‘All our hearts are full of shock and sadness’: PM leads tributes from across political spectrum to ‘decent family man’ David Amess killed in ‘attack on democracy’ – with flags flying at half-mast in Downing Street 

By James Tapsfield Political Editor for MailOnline

Boris Johnson led a great outpouring of grief from across the political spectrum today after the brutal stabbing of Tory MP David Amess.  

The PM was among colleagues from all parties hailing the veteran Conservative – who died after being attacked at a constituency surgery’ as a ‘true gent’ and a ‘decent’ family man.

And there was defiance that MPs must not bow to an ‘attack on democracy’ by refusing to meet voters face to face in future.

Returning to Downing Street to address the shocking news after a Cabinet away-day in Bristol, the PM said: ‘All our hears are full of shock and sadness.’

He said the death came after ‘almost 40 years of continuous service to the people of Essex and the whole of the United Kingdom’.

‘The reason people are so shocked and sad is above all he was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics,’ he said.

‘He also had an outstanding record of passing laws to help the most vulnerable.’

Flags in Westminster are being flown at half-mast as a mark of respect to the 69-year-old, who had been an MP since 1983.

A 25-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Former Conservative prime minister Theresa May tweeted: ‘Heartbreaking to hear of the death of Sir David Amess.

‘A decent man and respected Parliamentarian, killed in his own community while carrying out his public duties.

David Amess

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson led a great outpouring of grief from across the political spectrum today after the brutal stabbing of Tory MP David Amess

Mr Johnson returned to Downing Street to address the shocking news after a Cabinet away-day in Bristol

Mr Johnson returned to Downing Street to address the shocking news after a Cabinet away-day in Bristol

The political world reacted with deep sadness to the grim events today

The political world reacted with deep sadness to the grim events today

‘A tragic day for our democracy. My thoughts and prayers are with David’s family.’

Former prime minister Sir John Major said: ‘This is truly heartbreaking news of a good and decent man who – for over 30 years – was a dedicated public servant.

‘My heart goes out to his family.’

Carrie Johnson, the Prime Minister’s wife, tweeted: ‘Absolutely devastating news about Sir David Amess.

‘He was hugely kind and good. An enormous animal lover and a true gent. This is so completely unjust. Thoughts are with his wife and their children.’

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab tweeted: ‘Heartbroken that we have lost Sir David Amess MP.

‘A great common sense politician and a formidable campaigner with a big heart, and tremendous generosity of spirit – including towards those he disagreed with. RIP my friend.’

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, tweeted: ‘Shocked to hear of the attack on Sir David Amess. Praying for him, his loved ones and his staff.

‘Our elected representatives must be able to live and work without fear of violence or intimidation if we are to maintain our democracy.’

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps described Sir David Amess as ‘a true parliamentarian’.

He tweeted: ‘Awful, tragic news about David.

‘A dedicated, thoughtful man and a true Parliamentarian, who lost his life while serving the constituents who he worked relentlessly for throughout his career.

‘My thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.’

Health Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: ‘Devastated to learn of Sir David Amess’ murder. A great man, a great friend, and a great MP killed while fulfilling his democratic role.

‘My heart goes out to Julia, his family, and all who loved him. Let us remember him and what he did with his life.’

David Amess and wife Julia, with their fourth child, baby daughter Alexandra. They are pictured with two of their other children, David and Katherine

David Amess and wife Julia, with their fourth child, baby daughter Alexandra. They are pictured with two of their other children, David and Katherine

Jeremy Corbyn, Nigel Farage and Tory MP George Freeman were among those paying their respects tonight

Jeremy Corbyn, Nigel Farage and Tory MP George Freeman were among those paying their respects tonight

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: ‘Elected representatives from across the political spectrum will be united in sadness and shock today.

‘In a democracy, politicians must be accessible and open to scrutiny, but no-one deserves to have their life taken while working for and representing their constituents.’

Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford Tracey Crouch tweeted: ‘Heartbroken. I could write reams on how Sir David was one of the kindest, most compassionate, well liked colleagues in Parliament. But I can’t. I feel sick. I am lost.

‘Rest in Peace. A little light went out in Parliament today. We will miss you.’

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis described Sir David Amess as ‘one of life’s truly nice people’.

He tweeted: ‘I knew David both from my days as a councillor in Essex and as a fellow MP.

‘One of life’s truly nice people, a gentleman, who was always ready to give his help to anyone who needed it.

‘So shocked and saddened by this awful news. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.’

Former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor, who was Sir David Amess’s predecessor as MP for Basildon in Essex, paid tribute to him and called for security for MPs to be reviewed.

Mr Proctor told the PA news agency: ‘The news that my friend David Amess has been attacked and died in his constituency is horrible.

‘David took over my Basildon constituency in 1983. My thoughts and best wishes go to his wife Julia and their children and his family.

‘He supported me in good times and in bad. He was a wonderful Member of Parliament for Basildon and Southend-on-Sea West.

‘It’s now time to consider again the security of MPs, especially when they are present at fixed events and times such as constituency surgeries.

‘Our parliamentary democracy is under threat and Parliament must respond.’

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford tweeted: ‘Deeply saddened to hear about the death of Sir David Amess. A truly despicable and horrifying act.

‘My thoughts are with his friends, family, and constituency staff during this distressing time.’

Communities Secretary Michael Gove tweeted: ‘David Amess’s passing is heart-breakingly sad. Just terrible, terrible news.

‘He was a good and gentle man, he showed charity and compassion to all, his every word and act were marked by kindness. My heart goes out to his family.’

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey tweeted: ‘This is tragic and horrible news. My thoughts are with David’s wife and children, the wider family, friends and David’s community.

‘A truly terrible day for British politics but most importantly of all our prayers are with all the people who loved David.’

Conservative MP and former Cabinet minister David Davis tweeted: ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and staff of Sir David Amess.

‘He was a thoroughly kind and decent man who above all else cared strongly for his constituents and worked hard for them over his distinguished career. We have all lost a good friend.’

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted: ‘Devastated to hear the terrible news about Sir David Amess MP.

‘He was a lovely, lovely man and a superb parliamentarian. My thoughts are with all his family and friends.’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak tweeted: ‘The worst aspect of violence is its inhumanity. It steals joy from the world and can take from us that which we love the most.

Sir David with his wife Julia Arnold and his four daughters. The couple also have a son together

Sir David with his wife Julia Arnold and his four daughters. The couple also have a son together

‘Today it took a father, a husband, and a respected colleague. All my thoughts and prayers are with Sir David’s loved ones.’

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith tweeted: ‘Shocked to hear my long time good friend/colleague has died as a result of a desperate attack in his surgery doing what all MPs have a duty to do: looking out for their constituents often as a last hope when all else has failed.

‘My prayers go out to his family RIP #SirDavidAmess.’

Labour London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: ‘I am so deeply, deeply saddened by the tragic news that Sir David has passed away.

‘He loved being an MP and was a great public servant. It is just awful. My thoughts and prayers, and those of all Londoners, are with David’s loved ones at this time of unimaginable grief.’

Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale tweeted: ‘David and I entered the House together in 1983 and I regard him as a dear friend and a brave & compassionate MP.

‘The loss to his family, who David always put first, and to the House is appalling. But David died doing what David always did – looking after his constituents.’

 

ATTACKED ON THE JOB: TRAGIC MPs KILLED AND INJURED WHILE IN OFFICE 

By Danyal Hussain and Jacob Thorburn for MailOnline

Sir David Amess has become the sixth MP to be murdered in office in modern times as questions persist over the safety of our elected representatives. 

The Tory MP for Southend West, 69, was holding a surgery at the Belfairs Methodist Church, in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea on Friday when his attacker charged into the building wielding a knife and attacked the veteran politician. 

Paramedics desperately worked to save him on the floor of the Essex church for more than an hour, but he died after suffering ‘multiple stab wounds’ in the appalling attack with chilling similarities to the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in June 2016. 

Today, as MPs paid tribute to Sir David after hearing the horrifying news, scores of stunned politicians called for better measures to protect parliamentarians after a string of violent attacks over the last 40 years. 

As news of Sir David’s tragic death broke, Labour MP Rosie Duffield was among the first to call for MPs to be able to carry out their jobs ‘peacefully and without fear.’ 

The latest police data showed there were 678 crimes reported against MPs between 2016 and 2020 – as Brexit and Covid ensured the country endured one of the most polarised political landscapes in recent memory.

Sir David became the second MP to be murdered at a constituency meeting in the last six years, after Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen, was brutally murdered by far-right activist Thomas Mair in 2016.  

Below are the six MPs who have been killed while serving their constituents in the modern era: 

2021: Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West 

Conservative MP Sir David Amess, 69, was murdered on Friday after being stabbed ‘multiple times’ by a 25-year-old killer who sprinted into a church and knifed him to death during his weekly constituency surgery. 

The veteran Tory MP was meeting locals at the Belfairs Methodist Church, in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, when his attacker ran into the building wielding a knife before attacking the veteran politician at just after midday. 

Sir David, a married father-of-five whose wife Julia is also his part-time caseworker, is the sixth MP to be murdered in office in the last four decades.

Horrified constituents waiting to see the veteran MP, an ardent Brexiteer and royalist, watched in horror as the knifeman stabbed him, calling the police at 12.05pm. 

Police confirmed Sir David’s death at around 3pm. Counter-terrorism officers and armed units are at the scene. 

Conservative MP Sir David Amess was killed after being stabbed 'multiple times' during a constituency surgery in Belfairs Methodist Church, Leigh-on-Sea

Conservative MP Sir David Amess was killed after being stabbed ‘multiple times’ during a constituency surgery in Belfairs Methodist Church, Leigh-on-Sea

2016: Jo Cox, Batley and Spen Labour MP 

Ms Cox, who was MP for Batley and Spen, West Yorkshire, was murdered aged 41 after she was shot and stabbed multiple times by far-right activist Thomas Mair at an open constituency surgery in Birstall. 

The unemployed gardener shouted out ‘Britain First, this is for Britain, Britain will always come first’, as he launched a barrage of blows against Mrs Cox.

Jo Cox was the first MP killed in more than 20 years after she was stabbed and shot to death in 2016

Jo Cox was the first MP killed in more than 20 years after she was stabbed and shot to death in 2016

The murder – which came just days before the EU referendum – provoked shock around the world and grief both in Ms Cox’s constituency and among her friends and colleagues in Parliament.

She had worked at charity Oxfam before being elected a Labour MP in 2015. Her children Lejla, and Cuillin were three and five at the time of her death.

1990: Ian Gow, Eastbourne MP  

Eastbourne MP Ian Gow, a former private parliamentary secretary to Margaret Thatcher, was killed by an IRA car bomb at his Sussex home at the age of 53.

The charismatic Conservative MP kissed wife Jane goodbye that summer morning as he left their East Sussex farmhouse, got into his car and started it – triggering an IRA Semtex bomb which had been placed under the driver’s seat of the Austin Montego. 

It was 8.39 am and he died some ten minutes later, having suffered appalling injuries to the lower part of his body. 

As a fierce pro-Unionist and chairman of the Tory backbench committee on Northern Ireland, Ian Gow knew he was an IRA target, but refused to be cowed – keeping his personal contact details available in the local telephone directory.

Eastbourne MP Ian Gow

Eastbourne MP Ian Gow (above) a former private parliamentary secretary to Margaret Thatcher, was killed by an IRA car bomb at his Sussex home at the age of 53

1984: Sir Anthony Berry, MP for Enfield Southgate 

Sir Anthony Berry, MP for Enfield Southgate died during the IRA bombing of Brighton’s Grand Hotel, where Mrs Thatcher was staying for the 1984 Conservative Party conference.

Thirty people were injured in the attack on the eve of the Conservative Party conference but the terrorists’ main target, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, escaped relatively unscathed.

The bomber, Patrick Magee was given eight life sentences in 1986 for his role in the terror attack, but was released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement in 1999 after serving just 13 years. 

1981: Robert Bradford, MP for Belfast South  

The IRA also claimed the life of Ulster Unionist Party MP Robert Bradford, who was killed aged 40 while holding a constituency surgery in a Belfast community centre in 1981.

Mr Bradford, a staunch Methodist Minister was assassinated at the height of the Northern Ireland Troubles after he was shot by furious loyalists.

His death was condemned as ‘part of a series of atrocities committed in recent days’. 

Ulster Unionist Party MP Robert Bradford

Ulster Unionist Party MP Robert Bradford was killed in an IRA attack in 1981

1979: Airey Neave, MP for Abingdon

The Irish National Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the murder of former Northern Ireland secretary Airey Neave, whose car was blown up as he drove out of the parliamentary car park at Westminster in 1979.

Neave was shadow Northern Ireland secretary at the time of his slaughter at the hands of an IRA splinter group, the INLA.

He was killed in a car bomb in the courtyard of the House of Commons while leaving the car park but now Sajid Javid has dragged the case back to the fore after pleas for justice for the former army officer’s family.

His case was reopened in 2019.

Airey Neave, whose car was blown up as he drove out of the parliamentary car park at Westminster in 1979.

Airey Neave, whose car was blown up as he drove out of the parliamentary car park at Westminster in 1979.

The Parliamentary Liaison and Investigation Team, set up by the Metropolitan Police in 2016 following the death of Jo Cox, received 582 reports of malicious communications and handled 46 cases of harassment.  


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