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18 June 2016

Jo Cox murder suspect gives his name as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain“

Thomas Mair, 52, appears at Westminster Magistrates' Court charged with multiple offences in relation to the killing of Jo Cox MP.

By New Statesman

A man has been charged with murder following the shooting of Labour MP Jo Cox. Thomas Mair, 52, of Birstall was also charged with grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon, West Yorkshire police said in a statement. Asked to give his name at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Saturday morning, he replied: “My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain”. 

Cox, 41, who was MP for Batley and Spen, was shot and stabbed outside her constituency office in Birstall at lunchtime on Thursday. Police said a 77-year-old man remained in a stable condition in hospital after he was injured when he “bravely intervened” in an effort to help the mother of two.

Parliament will be recalled on Monday to allow MPs to pay tribute to Cox. The Remain and Leave sides in the EU referendum have suspended national campaigning since her death. At the Joseph Priestley memorial in Birstall on Friday, David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn delivered tributes to Cox. 

The Prime Minister said: “Today our nation is rightly shocked and I think it is time to take a moment to stand back and think about some of the things that are so important about our country.

“The fact that we should treasure and value our democracy, where members of Parliament are in the public, accountable to the public, available to the public. And that’s how Jo died, she died doing her job. I think the second thing is that we should recognise that politics is about public service. People who go into public life want to act in the national interest, they want to pursue the national interest, to do things for other people to make the country and make the world a better place. Politicians disagree with each other, we often disregard what politicians say and we disregard each other. But that is what it is about and that is what Jo showed it is all about.”

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The Labour leader said: “Ours is a country where tolerance and respect for other people and different viewpoints have always been highly valued.

“We must not allow those who peddle hatred, terror and division to poison and degrade our national and political life.

“Jo Cox stood for tolerance, justice, peace and human rights. If any good can come from her killing it should be for us to come together as a country and face down hatred and intolerance in our society.”

US president Barack Obama phoned Brendan Cox, the late MP’s husband, from Air Force One to offer his condolences. A White House statement said: “The president noted that the world is a better place because of her selfless service to others, and that there can be no justification for this heinous crime, which robbed a family, a community, and a nation of a dedicated wife, mother and public servant.”

A fundraising appeal launched in Cox’s memory has raised more than £200,000 to support The Royal Voluntary Service, anti-extremism group Hope Not Hate and The White Helmets, which provides search and rescue workers in Syria.

The Conservatives, Ukip and the Liberal Democrats have said that they will not contest the forthcoming Batley and Spen by-election.