POLITICS

Jo Cox, Labour MP, Killed In Shooting In Birstall, West Yorkshire

The 41-year-old was killed this afternoon

16/06/2016 14:10 | Updated 17 June 2016
  • Jo Cox killed after being shot and stabbed in Birstall, near Leeds

  • 41-year-old Labour MP was pronounced dead at around 1.50pm

  • Mother-of-two had been holding a surgery in a town library

  • A 52-year-old has been arrested following the killing

  • Witness says attacker shouted 'put Britain first' before incident

  • EU Referendum campaigning suspended after tragedy

Labour MP Jo Cox has been killed after being shot and stabbed in Birstall, near Leeds, Thursday afternoon.

The attack came on the steps of the town library just before 1pm, where the 41-year-old mother-of-two had been holding a surgery with her constituents.

Cox, who was elected to the Commons last year as MP for Batley and Spen, was rushed to Leeds Infirmary hospital by air ambulance after apparently being shot twice and stabbed.

It was announced this evening that Cox, mother of a five-year-old and a three-year-old, had died from her wounds at around 1.50pm.

A 52-year-old, named locally as Tommy Mair, was arrested after the attack, in which a 77-year-old man was also injured.

Her husband, Brendan, this afternoon tweeted this picture of his wife.

In a statement, Brendan paid tribute to his wife:

"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."

Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the Lib Dem leader Tim Farron all paid tribute to Cox.

Corbyn said: “The whole of the Labour Party and Labour family - and indeed the whole country - will be in shock at the horrific murder of Jo Cox today.

“Jo had a lifelong record of public service and a deep commitment to humanity. She worked both for Oxfam and the anti-slavery charity, the Freedom Fund, before she was elected last year as MP for Batley and Spen – where she was born and grew up.

“Jo was dedicated to getting us to live up to our promises to support the developing world and strengthen human rights – and she brought those values and principles with her when she became an MP.

“Jo died doing her public duty at the heart of our democracy, listening to and representing the people she was elected to serve. It is a profoundly important cause for us all.

“Jo was universally liked at Westminster, not just by her Labour colleagues, but across Parliament.

“In the coming days, there will be questions to answer about how and why she died. But for now all our thoughts are with Jo’s husband Brendan and their two young children. They will grow up without their mum, but can be immensely proud of what she did, what she achieved and what she stood for.

“We send them our deepest condolences. We have lost a much loved colleague, a real talent and a dedicated campaigner for social justice and peace. But they have lost a wife and a mother, and our hearts go out to them.”

Other Labour MPs took to Twitter to express their shock at the killing.

But for now all our thoughts are with Jo’s husband Brendan and their two young children. They will grow up without their mum, but can be immensely proud of what she did, what she achieved and what she stood for. Jeremy Corbyn

At a press conference this evening, Dee Collins, the chief constable of West Yorkshire police, confirmed Cox died at the scene of the attack.

An eye witness, Hichem Ben-Abdallah, a Labour party campaigner who was canvassing with Cox and knew her well, told Sky News that he saw her on the ground, “her face bleeding”.

He said an elderly man wearing a white baseball cap pulled the MP by her hair and shot her twice.

"I saw people rushing down the road towards the library. I came out with a couple of people from the restaurant to see what's happening and we saw a man wearing a dirty white baseball cap with a grey, small jacket and start jostling with somebody. I couldn't see."

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A man being pinned to the ground by police near the scene of the shooting
Sky
Police near the scene of the incident in Birstall, West Yorkshirte

The eyewitness said that he could see the owner of the dry cleaners who was "the hero of the scene" who "jostled" with the gunman. 

"There was a guy who was being very brave and another guy with a white baseball cap who he was trying to control and the man in the baseball cap suddenly pulled a gun from his bag".

He added that the MP then became involved: "The man stepped back with the gun and fired it and then he fired a second shot, as he was firing he was looking down at the ground."

Ben-Abdallah said that the gun looked like a makeshift weapon or one from the First World War.

He said: "At first I didn't recognise her that she was Jo. The lady was on the floor, her face bleeding, her hair roughed up as if she's been pulled."

He added: "Everybody was crying, the women, I mean, I am absolutely shocked, absolutely shocked because I know Jo very well and we did the campaign for Labour councillor last month and absolutely it is devastating."

Google Maps
Jo Cox was shot in the town of Birstall, eight miles from Leeds in West Yorkshire

Another witness, local cafe owner Clarke Rothwell, said he turned around to see a man in a baseball cap with "an old fashioned looking gun in his hand".

"He shot this lady once and then he shot her again, he fell to the floor, leant over shot her once more in the face area.

"Somebody tried to grab him, wrestling with him and then he wielded a knife, like a hunting knife, just started lunging at her with a knife half a dozen times. People were screaming and running from the area," he told the BBC.

Cox, who had two young children, was taken by air ambulance to Leeds General Infirmary.

She worked for Gordon Brown's wife, Sarah, before becoming an MP and spent ten years as an aid worker.

Phil Noble / Reuters
A forensics police officer works next women's shoes and a handbag on the ground behind a police cordon
OLI SCARFF via Getty Images
Police stand guard on the perimeter of the crime scene outside the library in Birstall where Jo Cox was shot

Both official EU referendum groups suspended campaigning this afternoon has news of the attack broke.

David Cameron cancelled a planned rally in Gibraltar and after learning of Cox's death issued this statement:

“This is absolutely tragic and dreadful news and my thoughts are with Jo’s husband Brendan, their two children and wider family. We’ve lost a great star. She had a big heart and people are going to be very, very sad at what has happened.

“She was a very strong campaigning MP. She had a great track record of caring about refugees and had taken a big interest in how we can look after Syrian refugees and do the right thing in our world. She was a star for her constituents, a star in Parliament and a star right across the House.

“It’s right that we are suspending campaigning activity in this referendum and everyone’s thoughts will be with Jo’s family and her constituents at this terrible time.”

Cox has spent most of her adult life working on overseas aid and development. Well known in Parliament for her Oxfam career, she has raised the plight of Syrian refugees repeatedly in the Commons.

The MP was among those leading calls for the UK to take in more child refugees, and kept up the pressure for more action after the Government caved in to pressure to take 3,000 unaccompanied youngsters.

With an expertise on the region, she called for humanitarian corridors for those affected by the Assad regime's brutality. 

Blogging for HuffPost UK earlier this year, she urged practical and diplomatic help for Syria and warned that without a coordinated international effort there would be more tragedies in the Mediterranean.

Cox lived on a house boat on the Thames with her family when she is in the capital, and her family took part in yesterday's flotilla campaigning for the Remain side.

This morning, her husband tweeted this picture:

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    Police and forensics investigators stand behind a cordon in Birstall near Leeds.
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  • Sky
  • Phil Noble / Reuters
    Women's shoes and a handbag lie on the ground behind a police cordon in Birstall.
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    Police stand behind a cordon in Birstall.
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    Police stand behind a cordon in Birstall.
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    Police and forensics investigators stand behind a cordon in Birstall.
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    Police stand behind a cordon in Birstall.
  • Phil Noble / Reuters
    Women's shoes and a handbag lie on the ground behind a police cordon in Birstall near Leeds.
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    Police stand behind a cordon in Birstall near Leeds.
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    Police and stand behind a cordon in Birstall .
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    Police stand behind a cordon.
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    Police stand behind a cordon in Birstall.
  • Phil Noble / Reuters
    Police officers and forensics investigators stand behind a police cordon in Birstall.
  • Christopher Furlong via Getty Images
  • Christopher Furlong via Getty Images
  • OLI SCARFF via Getty Images
  • OLI SCARFF via Getty Images
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  • Christopher Furlong via Getty Images
  • OLI SCARFF via Getty Images
  • Christopher Furlong via Getty Images
  • OLI SCARFF via Getty Images
  • Phil Noble / Reuters
    A forensics police officer works next women's shoes and a handbag on the ground behind a police cordon in Birstall near Leeds, June 16, 2016 A British lawmaker was in critical condition after an incident in her constituency in northern England on Thursday, British police said, with media reports suggesting she had been shot and stabbed. Media reports said Jo Cox, 41, who is a lawmaker for the opposition Labour Party, had been attacked as she prepared to hold an advice surgery for constituents in Birstall near Leeds. REUTERS/Phil Noble
  • Phil Noble / Reuters
    Forensics police officers stand near medical equipment on the ground behind a police cordon in Birstall near Leeds, June 16, 2016 A British lawmaker was in critical condition after an incident in her constituency in northern England on Thursday, British police said, with media reports suggesting she had been shot and stabbed. Media reports said Jo Cox, 41, who is a lawmaker for the opposition Labour Party, had been attacked as she prepared to hold an advice surgery for constituents in Birstall near Leeds. REUTERS/Phil Noble
  • OLI SCARFF via Getty Images
    A police forensic officer works at the scene in Birstall where Labour MP Jo Cox was shot on June 16, 2016. Campaigning for Britain's EU referendum next week was suspended on Thursday following news a leading MP with the 'Remain' camp was in a critical condition after being shot. Jo Cox, a 41-year-old mother-of-two from the opposition Labour Party, was left bleeding on the pavement after the incident in the town of Birstall in northern England, according to witnesses quoted by local media. / AFP / OLI SCARFF (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
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