British Parliament paid tribute today to Jo Cox, a Member of Parliament, who was brutally murdered last week in a small town in her native district of West Yorkshire. Cox was known as a “rising star” in the liberal Labour Party, having made a name for herself in Parliament during the year that she served as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons. A passionate feminist and humanitarian, she quickly became known in Parliament for her fierce compassion, speaking out on issues such as the Syrian refugee crisis, immigration, and women’s health.
Her death came in the midst of an intense political battle over whether the United Kingdom should exit the European Union (EU). Cox vocally opposed exiting the EU, and police believe that her death is connected to this opposition, as well as her support for refugees and immigrants. Cox was killed by a man with ties to neo-Nazi groups in the United States who was angered by her support for Britain remaining in the European Union, for immigration, and for inclusion. Before killing Cox, he yelled “Britain first,” which is also the name of a far-right political party in the United Kingdom.
During today’s memorial, Members of Parliament from both parties came together to remember Cox, praising her compassion, her dedication to standing up for the rights of marginalized people around the world, and her commitment to diversity and inclusion. Many MPs wore white roses to symbolize Cox’s native province of Yorkshire, and many also wore purple, green, and white, the colors of the British suffragette movement in a tribute to Cox’s dedication to feminism and women’s rights around the world.
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow described Cox as “a relentless campaigner for equality, human rights and social justice,” joining Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and many others who knew her in praising her strong sense of morality and commitment to achieving justice for all people. Corbyn called for “a kinder and gentler politics,” and Mr. Cameron praised Cox’s ability to show “the power of politics to make the world a better place.”
In Parliament, Cox will be remembered as a strong and passionate supporter of accepting Syrian refugees, immigration, and Britain’s membership to the European Union. In her first speech as an MP, she spoke about the increasing diversity in her constituency, saying that “Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration,” and remaking that they “have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”
Throughout her lifetime, Cox worked tirelessly on behalf of some of the world’s least privileged people. Before she was elected, Cox spent ten years working at Oxfam, providing humanitarian aid in areas of crisis, such as Darfur. She also worked to reduce maternal deaths across the world through White Ribbon Alliance, and remained a staunch advocate for women and girl’s rights in Britain and abroad. Once elected to Parliament, she vocally encouraged Britain to accept more Syrian refugees, and called the United Nations as a whole to stronger action on the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
Friend and fellow activist Kristy McNeill described Cox as a “forceful feminist,” citing her humanitarian efforts and her lifelong commitment to women’s health and rights. Cox was also committed to helping more women enter into politics, and served as chair of the Labour Women’s Network, a group of female politicians which helps Labour women get elected and succeed in office.
Jo Cox was a dedicated humanitarian, politician, and feminist whose death will be felt deeply both in Parliament and across Britain. Her murder was not only tragic for the many family members and friends who will miss her deeply, but also for the nation and the world as a whole. Cox will be remembered as a hero of the many causes for which she fought, and hopefully her legacy will encourage a more diverse, compassionate, and less hateful politics.