20 Jun 2016

Jo Cox: Commons pays tribute to dead MP

Politicians from across the political divide pay an emotional tribute to Labour MP Jo Cox, who was killed in her constituency last week.

Parliament had been in recess because of Thursday’s EU referendum, but was recalled so MPs could share their memories of Mrs Cox and praise her achievements as a politician and aid worker.

Several Labour MPs were in tears before the proceedings were started by Commons Speaker John Bercow, who described the death of “our democratically elected colleague” as “particularly shocking and repugnant”.

‘Well of hatred’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the 41-year-old MP for Batley and Spen, in Yorkshire, had been the victim of a “horrific act” that was “an attack on democracy”.

He added: “Her community and the whole country has been united in grief and united in rejecting the well of hatred that killed her in what increasingly appears to have been an act of extreme political violence.

“We are filled with sorrow for her husband Brendan and young children. They will never see her again but they can be so proud of everything she was, all she achieved and all she stood for as we are, as are her parents, as is her sister and her whole wider family.

“We need a kinder and gentler politics. This is not a factional party political point. We all have a responsibility in this House and beyond not to whip up hatred or sow division.”

‘Best of humanity’

Prime Minister David Cameron said he had first met Mrs Cox in Darfur in 2006 when she was an aid worker and he was in opposition and “there are people on our planet today who are only here and alive because of Jo”.

He praised her as a “loving, determined, passionate and progressive politician, who epitomised the best of humanity and who proved so often the power of politics to make our world a better place”.

Her friend, Labour MP Rachel Reeves, broke down as she said Mrs Cox had died doing the job she loved.

Mrs Cox’s husband Brendan, two young children and family watched from the public gallery as MPs, all wearing the white rose of Yorkshire, paid tribute.

‘Vile and unspeakable’

Her friend, Tory MP and former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell, responded to calls for politicians to receive tighter security in their constituencies, saying: “I do not believe she would want this vile and unspeakable act to change the open and accessible relationship we enjoy with our constituents. Thankfully, the record shows these attacks are as infrequent as they are disgraceful.”

After the tributes, MPs left the Commons to attend a memorial service at nearby St Margaret’s Church.