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20 June 2016

MPs pay tribute to Jo Cox: “She understood that rhetoric had consequences“

Some MPs wiped away tears as speakers paid tribute to a "humanitarian to the core".

By Julia Rampen

White roses flickered on lapels in the House of Commons today as MPs stood one by one to pay tribute to Jo Cox, who was murdered on Thursday.

Some brushed away tears while they heard about the former aid worker’s work in Darfur, her dedication to her family and her popularity as a constituency Labour MP.

The cross-party speakers painted a picture of a woman who was big hearted and practical, who preferred actions over sentimental words and campaigned endlessly on behalf of Syrian refugees.

Wirral South MP Alison McGovern struggled with emotion as she said: “We have far more in common than what divides us.”

While many MPs called for politics of unity rather than division, Andrew Mitchell, the former international development minister, cut straight to the question of MPs’ security.

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He told the hushed chamber: “I don’t believe she would want this evil and despicable act to change the relationship we have with our constituents.”

The Tory MP, who campaigned with Cox on Syria, recalled a meeting to the Russian embassy where she told the ambassador off. ” I don’t think he will soon forget this visit,” he joked.

And Stephen Kinnock, who shared an office with her, hit out at the campaigning tactics of Nigel Farage, saying: ““I can only imagine Jo’s reaction had she seen the poster unveiled just hours before her death. A poster that demonised refugees. She would have responded with outrage. Jo understood that rhetoric has consequences.”

Perhaps the most poignant tribute came from Nigel Dodds, MP for Belfast North. Speaking on behalf of all Northern Irish parties in the chamber, he said: “We in Northern Ireland have experienced direct and personal attempted murder attempts and have lost friends and colleagues to men of violence. We have felt the pain and anguish that Jo’s do now. Our hearts go out to you.”

Jo Cox tribute in quotes

“The horrific act that took her from us was an attack on democracy. Our whole country has been shocked and saddened by it.” – Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition

“Jo was a humanitarian to her core. Quite simply, there are people on our planet today who are only here and alive because of Jo.” – David Cameron, Prime Minister

“Batley and Spen can elect a new MP, but no one can replace a mother.’ – Rachel Reeves, MP for Leeds West

‘[Jo] dressed the Russian ambassador down for his country’s cruelness and cynicism in Syria. I don’t think he will soon forget this visit.” – Andrew Mitchell, MP for Sutton Coldfield

“We must stand up for something better, because of someone better.” – Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon

“She wasn’t some do-gooder jetting out to hand out alms. She wanted to know why, who was responsible, what we could do about it.” – Stephen Doughty, MP for Cardiff South and Penarth

“A life like Jo Cox’s shouldn’t be defined by her end. It is her life that counts.” – Nigel Dodds, MP for North Belfast

“If you have got someone like Jo, you must have a darned good family behind you. We have a duty in this house to watch over that family.” – Barry Sherman, MP for Huddersfield