EMOTIONAL MPs today paid a touching tribute to their slain colleague Sir David Amess by leaving empty his seat in the House of Commons.
The gap stood out poignantly on the chamber’s rammed green benches as MPs bowed their heads in silence in honour of the killed dad-of-five.
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle officially informed MPs of Sir David’s “despicable” death while Priti Patel mourned the “appalling tragedy”.
Boris Johnson led tributes in the chamber this afternoon after Parliament cleared its agenda to mark his fatal stabbing last Friday.
In a sombre speech the PM praised Sir David as “a seasoned campaigner of verve and grit” who was taken by a “contemptible act of violence”.
He told a silent Commons chamber the veteran MP should be remembered for his “outstanding record on behalf of the vulnerable and the voiceless”.
He said: “Sir David was a patriot who believed passionately in this country, in its people, in its future.
“He was also one of the nicest, kindest, and most gentle individuals ever to grace these benches.
“When he died he was doing what he firmly believed was the most important part of any MP's job offering help to those in need.”
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The PM said Sir David’s death “leaves a vacuum that will not and can never be filled”.
He added: “This country needs people like Sir David, this House needs people like Sir David, our politics needs people like Sir David.
“Dedicated, passionate, firm in his beliefs but never anything less than respectful for those who thought differently.
“Those are the values he brought to a lifetime of public service. We will cherish his memory, we will celebrate his legacy.
“And we will never allow those who commit acts of evil to triumph over the democracy and the Parliament that Sir David Amess loved so much.”
A string of other MPs also paid respects to their fallen colleague during a special debate this afternoon.
Afterwards, the PM and Speaker of the Commons will lead a procession to the nearby St Margaret’s Church in Westminster.
This country needs people like Sir David, this House needs people like Sir David, our politics needs people like Sir David
It comes as MPs revealed the level of extreme threats against them for doing their jobs.
The suspect – who is still in police custody – was named at the weekend as Ali Harbi Ali.
Old pals told The Sun that he was radicalised watching Anjem Choudary on YouTube.
The Sun exclusively revealed that police said they had discovered Islamist material on his phone following the fatal stabbing.
The 25-year-old, who is a British national with Somali heritage, is not thought to have been previously known to the security services.
The suspect was arrested on Friday at a Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where the MP for Southend West had been meeting constituents.
It is believed David Amess’s suspected killer had been waiting calmly before stabbing the Conservative politician 17 times – only to then sit silently waiting for police to arrive.
Sir David was also reported to have received an “upsetting threat” just days before his murder – after revealing his family paid a “big price” for his job as an MP.
HEARTBROKEN FAMILY PAY TRIBUTE
In a statement released through the Metropolitan Police, Sir David's family said they are "absolutely broken" after he was attacked while meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
They said: "Strong and courageous is an appropriate way to describe David. He was a patriot and a man of peace.
"So, we ask people to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all. This is the only way forward. Set aside hatred and work towards togetherness.
"Whatever one's race, religious or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand.
"As a family, we are trying to understand why this awful thing has occurred. Nobody should die in that way. Nobody."
Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle says he would like to see Sir David Amess' coat of arms put up in the House of Commons.
Speaking to Times Radio he confirmed there would be a chance for MPs to pay tribute to Sir David when the House of Commons sat in the afternoon.
Serving MPs who are killed in action while in office have traditionally been given the honour of having their coat of arms placed on the walls of the debating chamber.
It originally started as a tribute to MPs who were killed fighting in wars but now it is a tribute to anyone who is killed on the job.
The last person to receive the honour was Jo Cox with a plague designed by her children.
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