Tributes have poured in for Labour MP Jo Cox, who was fatally attacked in the street yesterday in her constituency of Birstall in West Yorkshire, and later died in hospital as a result of her injuries.
Police investigations are yet to establish a clear motive, though Chief Constable Dee Collins has confirmed that officers are not looking for any further suspects after a man, named locally as Tommy Mair, was arrested shortly after the attack, carrying weapons including firearms.
As a sign of respect for Cox, all EU referendum campaigning has been suspended until the weekend.
Rachel Reeves, MP for Leeds West, is one of many politicians to visit the scene this morning to pay tribute to Cox, saying: “This is the sort of street that is recognisable in any part of the country. And to think that such a violent crime took place here yesterday against such a wonderful woman.
“There’s a sense today of numbness, not being able to believe it happened. And also grief and sorrow about the death of a mother, wife, daughter, and friend to so many of us.”
Labour MP Yvette Cooper also paid tribute to Cox, telling Radio 4: “It’s unbearable to think she’s had her [life] stolen away. Most of us are struggling to process it. The shock hasn’t really sunk in.
“She was brilliant. Seized on things, was a fierce advocate for the things she believed in but also fiercely proud of her family.”
Vigils have been held at Wesminster and also in St Peter’s Church, Birstall, while tributes and flowers have been laid outside the library where the attack took place.
The tragedy has also resonated with politicians across the Atlantic, with Hilary Clinton speaking out this morning to both honour Cox, and echo the sentiments shared by Cox’s husband Brendan; that we must unite to fight against hatred.
In her statement, Clinton says: “I am horrified by the assassination of British MP Jo Cox, murdered earlier today in her district in Northern England. By all accounts, she was a rising star. Her maiden speech in Parliament celebrated the diversity of her beloved Yorkshire constituency, and passionately made the case that there is more that unites us than divides us. It is cruel and terrible that her life was cut short by a violent act of political intolerance.
“It is critical that the United States and Britain, two of the world's oldest and greatest democracies, stand together against hatred and violence. This is how we must honor Jo Cox -- by rejecting bigotry in all its forms, and instead embracing, as she always did, everything that binds us together.
“My thoughts and prayers are with her friends, her family, and the British people.”
Reports have also surface suggesting that Cox was considering upping her security detail following harassing letters she had received, which resulted in a man being cautioned.
MP Stephen Kinnock, who shared a Westminster office with Cox, has told newspapers that Cox wasn’t ‘overly concerned’ by the messages, but has added that more consideration should be given to the tone of today’s politics.
Speaking to the BBC, he says: “We need to think a bit about the tone of our politics and the way that politicians and the media talk to each other… and the way social media kicks in and amplifies this. It’s not a big journey from saying horrible things to doing horrible things.”
Cox’s death marks the first murder of a British MP in office in 26 years, and has left the nation in shock.
Social media users have reacted to the sad news by sharing the hashtag #thankyourMP, which is now trending on Twitter, alongside messages of thanks and support for their local representatives.
Campaign group Avaaz has also set up a page called Show Jo Love Wins, calling on people the world over to unite against hatred and violence. The page’s message reads:
“Jo, we pledge to honour your beautiful life of service to humanity, by picking up the banner of love, and carrying it to our homes, our communities, our countries and our world. Your children will not grow up to know a darker world. The hate that took your life will not triumph. We will fight, with love, and for love, for the world we all want.”
Tributes have poured in via the page, with many calling for more tolerance, peace and love.
“We have far more in common with each other than things that divide us” - Jo Cox MP, in her own words
Jo Cox was only a Labour MP for 13 months but in that short time she quickly made an impression as an honourable and honest politician.
The 41-year-old will be remembered as a tireless campaigner for refugees, having worked in some of the most dangerous places in the world in her role at Oxfam before turning to politics.
Here are some of her most inspiring words.
“Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration, be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir. While we celebrate our diversity, what 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 with each other than things that divide us.”
“I’ve been in some horrific situations where women have been raped repeatedly in Darfur, I’ve been with child soldiers who have been given Kalashnikov and kill members of their own family in Uganda. In Afghanistan I was talking to Afghan elders who were world weary of a lack of sustained attention from their own Government and from the international community to stop problems early. That’s the thing that all of that experience gave me - if you ignore a problem it gets worse.”
“In my view it is only when civilians are protected that we will defeat Isis, and until that is at the centre of our plan I will remain an outspoken advocate for that cause.”
On class and politics
“I never really grew up being political or Labour. It kind of came at Cambridge where it was just a realisation that where you were born mattered. That how you spoke mattered... who you knew mattered. I didn’t really speak right or knew the right people. I spent the summers packing toothpaste at a factory working where my dad worked and everyone else had gone on a gap year! To be honest my experience at Cambridge really knocked me for about five years.”
On foreign policy
“The left should now ensure that clearly defined principles on human rights and the prevention of mass atrocities are at the centre of our foreign policy thinking and action. If we do, then as Robin Cook said in his first press conference on becoming foreign secretary in May 1997, 'Britain will once again be a force for good in the world.' And if we don’t reclaim this ground I fear that British foreign policy will become increasingly commercially driven, tactical and chaotic rather than principled, strategic and coherent.”
“We all know that the vast majority of the terrified, friendless and profoundly vulnerable child refugees scattered across Europe tonight came from Syria. We also know that as that conflict enters its sixth barbaric year that desperate Syrian families are being forced to make an impossible decision: stay and face starvation, rape, persecution and death or make a perilous journey to find sanctuary elsewhere.
“And who can blame desperate parents for wanting to escape the horror that their families are experiencing. The reality in which children are being killed on their way to school, where children as young as seven are being forcibly recruited to the front line and where one in three Syrian children have grown up knowing nothing but fear and war. These children have been exposed to things no child should ever witness and I know I personally would risk life and limb to get my two precious babies out of that hell-hole. ”