Honouring Jo Cox

Jo Cox, mother of two and MP for Batley and Spen, West Yorkshire, is dead after a shooting and knife attack outside a local library in Birstall, in her constituency. Aged 42, she was only a year into her role, having previously worked as an aid worker for Oxfam; an adviser to Sarah Brown, the wife of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, during a campaign to prevent maternal and infant mortality; and as senior adviser to the Freedom Fund, an anti-slavery charity.

A passionate campaigner for Labour and the EU Referendum’s Remain side, she was most notable in asking David Cameron, in September of last year, whether he thinks he has led public opinion on the refugee crisis or followed it, and she later abstained on the vote for airstrikes on Syria.

Cox’s maiden speech in Parliament paid tribute to the diversity of her community: “Whilst we celebrate our diversity, the thing that surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us.”

Shortly after her death, her husband Brendan Cox’s statement read: “She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her.”

Tributes have come from across the UK and the world. Parliamentary Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn praised her “lifelong record of public service and a deep commitment to humanity.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “we’ve lost a great star”, meanwhile Hillary Clinton condemned the “cruel and terrible” killing, saying: “we must honour Jo Cox - by rejecting bigotry in all its forms, and instead embracing, as she always did, everything that binds us together.”

Canadian MP and friend Nathan Cullen broke down in tears while paying tribute to Cox, saying that she “used her voice for those who have none. She dedicated her passion to those who needed it most and she harnessed her limitless love, even and especially for those who allowed hate to consume them."

Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman who was critically injured after a mass shooting, gave a statement to say: “The assassination of MP Jo Cox at the hands of a man driven by hatred is a manifestation of a coarseness in our politics and hatred toward the other that we must not tolerate.”

Her friends in the Labour party spoke about how much fun she was, how dedicated she was, how she inspired them and what they can now do to honour someone who had so much left to do. In the constituency of Tooting, where Labour won the by-election but did not celebrate it out of respect to the tragedy of the day, incumbent MP Rosena Allin-Khan did not make a victory speech but a short statement: “Jo's death reminds us that our democracy is precious but fragile. We must never forget to cherish it.”

Update: Friends of Jo Cox have established the #MoreInCommon campaign to commemorate her. They have planned gatherings around the world to be held on what would have been her birthday, Wednesday 22 June. Learn more about the 'More In Common' Campaign on Facebook.

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Photo Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images