“IT’S not going to happen – 100 per cent, it WILL NOT happen. I promise you. IT WILL NOT HAPPEN!”

Ask a direct question, get a direct answer. I had questioned Sir David Amess about his fight to prevent Southend A&E from being downgraded and what the chances of the controversial plans going ahead were?

His resolute response was somewhat refreshing. But then this is a politician who recently celebrated winning his tenth general election in a row, a feat that takes a huge dose of dogged determination.

“And not only is the hospital going to remain, it is going to become bigger and better- a world class centre of excellence,” he assured. “I’m going to win this one.”

The father-of-five, has been an MP since June 1983, when he won for the Conservatives in Basildon. He then stood for Southend West in 1997, which he duly won and has done so in every election ever since. Last month’s election saw him triumph by a 10,000 majority. But his personal success clearly wasn’t mirrored nationally.

“I knew things weren’t going well with the national campaign quite early on," he said.

"I was thinking, ‘this isn’t going to be the landslide that everyone was predicting.. Each day it just got worse as it became clear we didn’t have a great manifesto. I have a brilliant team in my office, but I didn’t want to worry them so I kept quiet about my concerns.

“On the evening of the election I sat there with my wife as the exit polls came in. I turned to her and said ‘there’s not going to be an overall majority’. My heart sank.”

David, however, personally walked away with 26,046 votes - the most he had ever received. Now, having been an MP for almost 35 years, I’m curious at what his proudest moment has been?

“It has to be when I was first elected. I didn’t expect to win. Nobody expected me to win. I was an East End boy, born into a working class family and there I was an elected MP sitting on the green benches.

“I remember standing at the Dispatch Box just after my election and Jeremy Corbyn was in front of me. We both had longer hair in those days. Jeremy has done well but all these years later he’s still what he was then, a full time protestor. Saying that I hold many of the same views I did when I first started out.

“In my early days I lookback and think maybe I was a bit foolhardy at times. I’ve learnt a lot. Politics has changed, the people in it have changed, and not for the better.”

Although he has proved himself as a true blue Tory, Sir David is not afraid to go against the party line when it comes to issues he believes in – the proposed changes to Southend A&E for example or his well- documented hatred for fox hunting. In his early days he also made an emotive speech to the Conservative government and tabled an early day motion to help more than 1,200 workers of the Carreras Rothmans factory who were facing redundancy.

“It was in 1984 and I remember so vividly being a novice MP standing on the back of a lorry addressing 1,200 people who had just lost their jobs. It was a huge thing, affecting so many people - proud people, hard working people. I remember feeling so bold about wanting to win the fight to help them."

“As an MP your first duty has to be for your constituents well over any personal ambition you might have. To be super successful in politics these days you need to be super ruthless. I never want to be that. I don’t like the cruelty and rudeness that has become acceptable. I don’t get it. There’s no need for it.”

Sir David concedes it took him longer to be accepted by the people of Southend than it did by Basildon folk, but after a few years he was into his stride. Known for his personal popularity amongst many of his constituents he puts his success down to upholding his promise to work for the people who elected him.

“I have never have become complacent about representing my constituents, I’ve not got arrogant- so I hope. I still enjoy the challenge that this job brings.”

And speaking of those day-to-day challenges, have they got any easier?

“No way, it’s got more difficult. People tend to think they own you when you are an MP. They expect an immediate response. It used to all be about letters and people would understand it would take a few days to get a reply landing on the mat.

“Now with email they demand an answer immediately and obviously you can’t always give that. It takes time to sort out someone’s visa, their school placement, their problems, but that isn’t always understood.”

“But being able to help people is what I wanted to go into this for, and what keeps me going. I would like it to read on my epitaph that I did make a difference to people’s lives."

So politically speaking, who is Sir David’s inspiration: “That’s an easy one - Margaret Thatcher. There will only ever be one Margaret Thatcher. She changed a country she changed the world. Winston Churchill is also a huge hero of mine. He was a little man with an incredible voice who changed history.”

Sir David is many things – a staunch monarchist, animal lover and anti-hunting supporter, a passionate historian, sports fan and avid gardener. But what about when it comes to TV. Is Sir David a Throner or a Love Island fan? “No, I’m not. I don’t get a lot of time to watch TV but I will confess I absolutely love Come Dine With Me. I don’t think my cooking skills would live up to being on the show but you never know.”

I wonder if he ever has time to watch his former boss Michael Portillo in one of his documentaries?

“Yes I do, I really enjoy his programmes. I was his Parliamentary Private Secretary for ten years. I found him to be a very kind man and brilliant politician. He was very close to having it all but he chose to walk away. I bumped into him a while ago and asked how he was and he said he was so much happier in his career now. I’m not sure about some of the bright suits he wears though!”

So what’s next for Sir David, project wise?

“Well first we will win the fight for Southend A&E, then I will secure city status for Southend. I love Southend, - I love the people, the ice cream, the fish, the parks, the beach everything. I also love the pier, I think it’s really understated. I want it to become a haven for New Year’s Eve celebrations. Like you see the ball drop in Times Square, New York. Well we can make our own amazing version centered around the pier.

“I also want to make Southend it a centre of learning, with students from all over the world coming here. And I can tell you this, there will definitely be a marina here in the town if I get my way.”

So many things to do, so little time, or is there? “I’m on my tenth election and I don’t have plans to go anywhere. As long as I’m wanted I’ll carry on,” he said. "Honestly, being an MP and the career I've had so far, all my dreams have come true."

Back to getting Southend labelled a city. Can you really do it Sir David? “It WILL happen, 100 per cent, just watch" he says. And there’s that refreshing belief again.