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English village in shock after British MP's murder

Cox grew up in the area and made an impassioned maiden speech in parliament about the ethnic diversity of her local community, which saw an influx of migrants from Ireland and the Indian subcontinent when it was a hub for the English textile industry Photograph: (Getty)

AFP Birstall, United Kingdom Jun 17, 2016, 12.01 PM (IST)

Tearful residents laid flowers to their local MP, Jo Cox, on Thursday in the normally quiet Yorkshire village where the 41-year-old mother of two was gunned down, as armed police patrolled the area.

As Britain struggled to comprehend a murder that has cast a shadow over next week's EU vote, investigators sealed off the home of the suspect -- named in the media as Thomas Mair -- and carried out a forensic search of his garden.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Cox's Labour Party, was expected in Birstall later on Friday after paying tribute to Cox at a vigil outside Parliament on Thursday.

"She grew up in this community, she lived for this community, she served this community, and in the end she gave her life for this community," Jonathan Gibbs, the Bishop of Huddersfield, told residents.

Dozens of floral tributes could be seen at the foot of a statue in Birstall, a large village in a district of around 16,000 inhabitants.

"My heart breaks for your children. So many of your constituents are proud to have called you their MP. Our whole country is hurting right now," read one handwritten note left with the flowers.

"Jo, what a vile and tragic day," read another.

Hichem Ben Abdallah, an eyewitness to the shooting who had campaigned in the last election alongside Cox, told AFP he was still in shock at the killing, the first murder of a serving British MP since the Irish Republican Army killed Ian Gow with a car bomb in 1990.

"She stood for peace and transparency, fighting corruption, wanted justice for all. I think her flame will carry on," he said.

"I hope we learn lessons from this," he added.

Cox, a former charity worker who was only elected to Parliament last year, was best known for her campaigning in favour of refugee rights and for Britain staying in the European Union (EU).

She grew up in the area and made an impassioned maiden speech in parliament about the ethnic diversity of her local community, which saw an influx of migrants from Ireland and the Indian subcontinent when it was a hub for the English textile industry.

Sitting outside a local sports and social club, Stephen Lees said of the attack: "It's atrocious. It's not something you expect around here.

"It's not sunk in properly yet."

In London, mourners laid flowers on the roof of the house boat where Cox lived with her husband and two young children, next to Tower Bridge.

Anne Wainwright, who lived alongside, told mourners: "We have lost a dear, dear friend in the most tragic and outrageous circumstances."

"We pay tribute to our amazing, wonderful and spirited member of this community -- a beacon of hope who believed in love, friendship and values that we all so much need at this time.

"The community will continue to be inspired by her relentless energy and her commitment to all that is good." 
(AFP)

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