Labour party MP Jo Cox died on Thursday afternoon after being shot and stabbed in the town of Birstall, Yorkshire.
Cox was first elected as an MP during the 2015 general election, representing the constituency of Batley and Spen in the west of England.
She leaves behind a husband, Brendan, along with two young children, Lejla and Cuillin. She was 41 years old.
Prior to becoming an MP last year, Cox attended Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge and then worked in the charity sector, spending time in war zones across the world for charities including Save the Children, Oxfam, and the NSPCC. She was also a one-time advisor to Sarah Brown — the wife of former prime minister Gordon Brown — founder and president of children’s charity Theirworld.
Cox’s mother and father worked as a school secretary and in a toothpaste and hairspray factory respectively, according to the Yorkshire Post. She was born and raised in Yorkshire, growing up in the constituency she would go on to represent.
Cox made her maiden speech in the House of Commons on June 3 2015, to discuss international development. You can view the entirety of her speech here.
Cox was also an avowed advocate for the plight of refugees fleeing Syria into Europe. She set up and chaired a Parliamentary Friends of Syria group, according to BuzzFeed. During Parliament’s vote on whether or not to intervene in the Syrian conflict, she abstained, arguing that she did not consider the intervention to be part of an effective comprehensive strategy to tackle the Syrian conflict.
In April made an impassioned speech in the Commons, urging action to end the refugee crisis, and asking the government to accept child refugees: Here is one of the key extracts (BuzzFeed has the speech in full):
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, 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. Who can blame desperate parents for wanting to escape the horror that their families are experiencing?
During her year in parliament, Cox also campaigned for the Remain side of the argument in advance of the UK’s EU referendum. Only yesterday, Cox tweeted a photo of her husband and children taking part in the so-called “Brexit Flotilla” supporting the Remain campaign.
Cox was also a staunch anti-Islamophobia advocate, co-hosting an event to tackle the issue with Conservative party peer Sayeeda Warsi Earlier this afternoon, before her death was announced.
Javarya Khan, a constituent of Cox’s told BuzzFeed that her efforts in the creating the event showed “people could work across party lines — it didn’t turn into an issue where they were accusing each other’s parties, but they were working together. It was cooperation. They were trying to bring the community together rather than pointing fingers.”
She nominated Jeremy Corbyn during Labour’s leadership campaign, but later wrote an open letter in Guardian with fellow MP Neil Coyle to say that she “regretted” the decision accusing Corbyn of “weak leadership, poor judgment and a mistaken sense of priorities.”
Following her passing, tributes for Cox have poured in from public figures across the UK. Labour’s leader released a statement, which you can read in full below, while Prime Minister David Cameron called her death a “tragedy” and “a committed and caring MP.”
Cox’s husband also released a statement, saying: “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.”
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