The husband of murdered politician Jo Cox is working on a memoir celebrating his wife’s life and achievements.
Brendan and Jo had been married for seven years and had two young children when she was shot and stabbed on the street last summer. Now, the political activist says that working on his late wife’s memoirs was part of his “grieving process”.
The book’s title, Jo Cox: More in Common, is a nod to the late Labour MP’s maiden speech to Parliament, in which she said that she believed “we are far more united than the things that divide us”.
Brendan Cox tells the Guardian that writing about his wife’s life helped him begin to “[come] to terms with what happened”, while “also remembering the adventures and love of life that our relationship was built upon”.
He continues: “Jo packed a lifetime of excitement into her 41 years and the book touches on some of the highlights.”
Labour MP Cox was murdered in her constituency of Birstall, West Yorkshire, on 16 June 2016, one week before the EU referendum. Cox had campaigned passionately for the UK to remain in the EU and for the fairer treatment of refugees; her killer, Thomas Mair, was an unemployed gardener with white supremacist tendencies. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in November.
Brendan Cox, a former advisor to Prime Minister Gordon Brown and director at Save the Children, made a statement in court during Mair’s trial. He says that he hopes his book will have a similar impact to that speech.
“I told the jury that having heard so much about the manner of Jo’s death I wanted to tell them about her life,” he says. “The objective of this book is the same: to tell people who didn’t know Jo who she really was.
“In an era of growing hatred and division, I wanted to tell the story of someone who brought love and empathy to everyone she met.”
Watch: The inspirational Jo Cox
After his wife’s death, Brendan Cox called on the British public to “unite to fight against the hatred that killed her”, and threw himself into continuing Jo’s political activism. He set up the Jo Cox Foundation for a “fairer, kinder and more tolerant world”, and delivered Channel 4’s alternative Christmas Day speech, in which he urged resistance against the forces of “fascism, xenophobia, extremism and terrorism”.
But despite his frenetic schedule, Cox tells the Guardian that he often found himself unable to sleep in the aftermath of his wife’s death. It was during these restless nights that he worked on her memoirs.
“Since June my life had been more hectic than ever before, [thanks to] a combination of suddenly being a single parent, responding to the public interest and trying to keep working on the causes I have always cared about,” he says.
“I wanted to write about Jo, but felt doing so was probably impossible because of all the pressures on my time.
“What I hadn’t factored in was lack of sleep. Sleeping used to be one of the things I was best at, but since June that is no longer true. I often wake at 4am or even 3am nowadays and am unable to get back to sleep. So this book is very much the product of sleep deprivation.”
Jo Cox: More in Common will be published in June, on the eve of the first anniversary of the Labour MP’s death. All royalties will be donated to the Jo Cox Foundation.