Cabinet ministers “broke down in tears” upon hearing of the death of Sir David Amess, Boris Johnson has said, as he paid tribute to the MP ahead of his funeral.
A horse-drawn hearse carrying the Conservative’s body will pass through his constituency of Southend West before Monday afternoon’s service.
His friend and party colleague Mark Francois is to deliver a eulogy at the private ecumenical service at St Mary’s Church in Prittlewell, before a second service at Westminster Cathedral on Tuesday.
Former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe will read a statement on behalf of the Amess family.
The father-of-five, who was stabbed to death while holding a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on 15 October, was a devout Catholic.
Prime minister Boris Johnson told BBC Essex ahead of the funeral that several of his ministerial colleagues broke down in tears when they learned of Sir David’s death while at a cabinet away day.
“Everybody was absolutely devastated,” he told the broadcaster. “We were all sitting around. I then got called out and got given the news.
“I had to go back in to tell cabinet colleagues, many of whom had known David for decades, and I’m afraid several colleagues broke down in tears because it was just an appalling piece of news.
“I think we were also very shaken by the implications of what had happened, and the fact his life had been tragically ended in the way that it was.”
Mr Johnson told Sky News the funeral was “a chance for everybody who knew and loved David to reflect on his amazing contribution to politics, to the people of Essex, to Southend”.
He added: “He was a guy who campaigned about things he really cared for whether it was animal welfare, people who suffered from endometriosis, which he brought to widespread public attention, or campaigning against fuel poverty.
“He showed what you can achieve as an MP to change lives of people up and down the country and he will be much much missed.”
Monday’s funeral service, led by Reverend Paul Mackay and Reverend Monsignor Kevin William Hale, is strictly by invitation only.
Following the 1pm service, a horse-drawn hearse will carry the casket of the veteran MP to his constituency office, Iveagh Hall, before returning to the chapel of rest.
Sir David’s family have requested that, in lieu of flowers or other tributes, donations are made to the charities that he supported.
These include The Dog’s Trust, The Music Man Project, Prost8, Endometriosis UK, and the Dame Vera Lynn Memorial Statue.