Jo Cox Tribute

Mr Speaker, Jo and I have been friends for over twenty years, and we have had a wonderful 12 months sharing an office since our election last May.

Jo used to use my cupboard as her wardrobe, and I will never forget her dashing around in her cycling gear, grabbing her clothes and shouting something over her shoulder about her latest project or campaign. 

She often brought her lovely children into the office with her, and if I was lucky I'd get a dinosaur drawing, or a chance to read them a story. 

They are wonderful kids who are truly bathed in love.

The murder of Jo Cox was a national tragedy, but we must also remember the unspeakable personal suffering that it has caused. 

Jo's family have lost a loving mother, wife, daughter and sister. 

Mr Speaker, the fearless Jo Cox never stopped fighting for what is right. She gave voice to the voiceless, and she spoke truth to power.

She exemplified the best values of our Party, and of our country: compassion, community, solidarity and internationalism. 

And she put her convictions to work for everyone she touched: for the people of Batley & Spen, for the wretched of Syria, for victims of violence and injustice everywhere.

On Thursday Jo was assassinated because of what she was, and because of what she stood for.

But out of the deep darkness of Jo’s death must now come the shining light of her legacy.

So let us build a politics of hope not fear, respect not hate, unity not division. 

Mr Speaker, I can only imagine Jo's reaction had she seen the poster unveiled hours before her death.

A poster, on the streets of Britain, that demonised hundreds of desperate refugees, including hungry, terrified children, fleeing from the terror of ISIS, and from Russian bombs.

She would have responded with outrage, and with a robust rejection of the calculated narrative of cynicism, division and despair that it represents.

Because Jo understood that rhetoric has consequences. 

When insecurity, fear and anger are used to light a fuse, then an explosion is inevitable

In the deeply moving tribute Brendan Cox made last Thursday, he urged the British people to unite and fight against the hatred that killed Jo.

It is the politics of division and fear, the harking back to incendiary slogans and the  rhetoric of “Britain First” that twists patriotism from love of country into an ugly loathing of others. 

Mr Speaker, we must now stand up for something better, because of someone better. 

In the name of Jo Cox and all that is decent, we must not let this atrocity intimidate our democracy.

We must now work to build a more respectful, and united country.

A country that stands tall in the world, confidently engaged with its partners.

Because this is our time to honour the legacy of the proud Yorkshire lass who dedicated her life to the common good, and who was so cruelly taken away from us in the prime of her life

Jo Cox: we love you, we salute you, and we shall never forget you.