U.K. man shouted ‘Britain first!’ Before Shooting Parliament Member Jo Cox
Labour legislator was in her constituency in Northern England. Police arrested a 52-year-old man; the two sides in Britain’s debate on whether to leave the EU suspended the campaign.
British Labour Party MP Jo Cox died on Thursday after being both stabbed and shot following an event in Yorkshire with local constituents.
As the nation responded to the news with shock and sadness, the police said they are continuing their investigation amid some reports suggesting the killing was politically motivated.
Dee Collins, the chief constable of West Yorkshire police, confirmed to reporters that a suspect is in custody but said investigators are not able to discuss possible motives at this time.
The Guardian newspaper has posted a powerful obituary of the 41-year-old wife, mother of two, and humanitarian turned lawmaker. In addition, the paper’s editorial board published a sharp rebuketo the violence that took her life and the politics of hatred and divisiveness that may have played a role in motivating her murder.
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Subsequently, he released the following statement:
Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love. I and Jo’s friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo.
Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people.
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. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.
Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.
British Labour Party MP Jo Cox is in critical condition after being shot and stabbed during a violent attack on Thursday, according to breaking news reports in the UK.
Though details remain incomplete, Cox was reportedly in the town of Birstall when the attack occurred and witness accounts suggest the violence may have been politically motivated.
According to an eye-witness account reported on the Mirror’s live coverage page, the suspected gunman—who was subsequently detained by police—shouted “Britain First” as he gunned down Cox. That phrase is a reference to the upcoming referendum in the UK on whether or not the country will stay in the European Union. Cox, a left-wing member of Parliament and former head of policy and humanitarian campaigning for Oxfam, has been an outspoken critic of the so-called “Brexit” from the EU.
Far-right and nationalist factions of the Leave Campaign have been roundly criticized for using xenophobic language and bigotry against immigrants and refugees as they argue in favor of the Brexit.
And as Liam O’Hare, a journalist with RTUK, noted on Twitter, “If true that Jo Cox’s attacker shouted ‘Britain First’ then this should be categorised as a far-right terrorist attack.”
According to Sky News, the witness said the shooter looked to be in his 60s or 70s—though police later stated the man in their custody was in his early 50s.
Though the possible motivations behind Thursday’s violence remain unknown as of this writing, if it is confirmed that political views played a role it would not be the first time Cox has experienced physical aggression from #VoteLeave advocates. As this tweet from Cox’s husband from Wednesday of this week shows:
— Brendan Cox (@MrBrendanCox) June 15, 2016
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn responded to the news on Twitter. “Utterly shocked by the news of the attack on Jo Cox,” Corbyn wrote. “The thoughts of the whole Labour Party are with her and her family at this time.”
Progressive columnist Owen Jones tweeted: “Horrendous. All my thoughts with [Jo Cox].”
Following the attack, local police released the following statement:
At 12.53 today, police were called to a report of an incident on Market Street, Birstall, where a woman in her 40s had suffered serious injuries and is in a critical condition.
A man in his late 40s to early 50s nearby also suffered slight injuries.
Armed officers attended and a 52-year-old man was arrested in the area. There are no further details at present.
Police presence in the area has been increased as a reassurance to the community.