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Dominic Raab says it seems ‘inevitable’ Southend will become a city

Dominic Raab today suggested it is ‘inevitable’ Southend-on-Sea will become a city as he said it would be a ‘very fitting tribute’ to murdered Tory MP David Amess.

The Deputy PM stressed there is a ‘mechanism’ for taking the decision on whether the Essex resort is given the new status.

But he pointed to the two-decade campaign by Sir David, who raised the issue at every opportunity in the Commons. 

Mr Raab told LBC radio: ‘It feels like a certain inevitability about this campaign.

‘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.’

Speaker Lindsay Hoyle also backed the move, saying: ‘I would love to see city status for Southend.’ 

Sir David had relentlessly pushed for the Essex resort to be made a city since 2000- most recently arguing that it would help attract some much-needed investment post-Brexit and Covid.

Colleagues from both sides of the aisle are calling for his wish be granted, arguing it would be a fitting memorial for the 69 year old.

The Queen is set to designate new cities in celebration of her Platinum Jubilee next year, and local authorities have been putting forward their towns for city status since June.

Boris Johnson could give an indication of the government’s feeling on the issue this afternoon when he leads tributes in the Commons. 

With a population of around 183,000, Southend is a large coastal town and is home to the longest pleasure pier in the world, Southend Pier, measuring 1.33 miles (pictured)

Dominic Raab

Since the year 2000, Sir David Amess (pictured) had relentlessly pushed for the Essex resort to be upgraded - most recently arguing that it would help attract some much-needed investment post-Brexit and Covid

Dominic Raab (left) pointed to the two-decade campaign by David Amess (right), who raised the issue at every opportunity in the Commons

Boris Johnson (pictured jogging this morning) could give an indication of the government's feeling on Southend's status this afternoon when he leads tributes in the Commons

Boris Johnson (pictured jogging this morning) could give an indication of the government’s feeling on Southend’s status this afternoon when he leads tributes in the Commons

Home Secretary Priti Patel also gave a warm response to the idea when she gave a round of interviews yesterday.

‘I’m smiling at that suggestion… It would be a wonderful tribute to my dear friend David,’ Ms Patel told Times Radio. 

Ms Patel told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘When David’s name is mentioned going forward he will bring great cheer and smiles.’

‘He was Mr Southend, he was Mr Essex, he would always put Southend front and centre of his work and that was David through and through.’

Conservative MP for Kingswood Chris Skidmore said: ‘David would badger me constantly about making Southend a city.

‘Not only did we exchange many letters, had meetings, every time I saw him in the tea room or passed him in the corridor he would shout out ‘don’t forget to make Southend a City’. No opportunity was ever missed. 

‘He told me once that it was his one great ambition left in Parliament that he would one day see Southend become a city.

‘It became a running joke every time he raised it, but he was passionately serious about making it happen.’

He added: ‘So with the jubilee next year, let’s give Southend city status and see Sir David’s final ambition realised.

‘Tragically he will never see that moment happen, but it would be a fitting memorial to a man who dedicated his life, and ultimately laid it down for his community.’

With a population of around 183,000, Southend is a large coastal town and is home to the longest pleasure pier in the world, Southend Pier, measuring 1.33 miles.

It also has London Southend Airport less than two miles north of the town centre.

Conservative MP for Lichfield Michael Fabricant said: ‘David campaigned for so many wonderful things, including animal welfare and to make Southend a city.

‘That would be a fitting memorial.’

Victoria Prentis, Tory MP for Banbury, added: ‘No one could have done more for his constituents. We all know that Southend should be a city.’

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

In one of the latest interventions in his campaign, Sir David argued: ‘Our country and the whole of the world will need to rebuild itself and particularly in terms of the economy.

‘Southend becoming a city would be of enormous benefit in terms of attracting investment post-Brexit.’

Making Southend-on-Sea (pictured) a city was one of Sir David's main goals as a politician and he famously pushed for it at every moment he could

Making Southend-on-Sea (pictured) a city was one of Sir David’s main goals as a politician and he famously pushed for it at every moment he could

Home Secretary Priti Patel insisted it is not for her to make a final decision on where is upgraded to the status

Home Secretary Priti Patel insisted it is not for her to make a final decision on where is upgraded to the status

The Essex resort is a popular staycation resort and his the London Southend Airport less than two miles from its centre

The Essex resort is a popular staycation resort and his the London Southend Airport less than two miles from its centre 

In March 2018, prime minister at the time Theresa May was being quizzed over Russia-UK relations following the recent Salisbury poisonings – but Sir David had other priorities.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, he asked Mrs May if she was aware that a charity for learning difficulties in his constituency had just broken the world record for dinging the most triangles – and whether or not she thought, as he did, that this was enough of a reason to make Southend-on-Sea a city.

At the Westminster Dog of Year contest this year, Sir David entered his French bulldog Vivienne.

Asked why she should win, he said: ‘Because she is an enthusiastic supporter of Southend becoming a city.’ 


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