Brexit referendum

Special sitting of Parliament pays tribute to slain MP

Above: British MPs returned to Parliament yesterday for a special sitting to pay tribute to Mrs Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen constituency.
Labour Party MP Rachel Reeves paying tribute to Mrs Cox, who was her close friend, in the House of Commons in Britain’s Parliament yesterday. Two roses – one red and one white – were placed where the slain MP used to sit. PHOTOS: BRITISH PARLIAMENT TV
Left: Labour Party MP Rachel Reeves paying tribute to Mrs Cox, who was her close friend, in the House of Commons in Britain's Parliament yesterday. Two roses - one red and one white - were placed where the slain MP used to sit.
Tributes laid by the Syria Solidarity Campaign during a vigil in remembrance of slain British Labour MP Jo Cox (in photo) in Parliament Square in front of the Houses of Parliament in central London on Sunday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Tributes laid by the Syria Solidarity Campaign during a vigil in remembrance of slain British Labour MP Jo Cox (in photo) in Parliament Square in front of the Houses of Parliament in central London on Sunday.
Tributes to Mrs Cox in London’s Parliament Square. Mrs Cox was shot and stabbed in the street last Thursday while she was preparing to meet constituents in Birstall, near Leeds in northern England. PHOTO: REUTERS
Tributes to Mrs Cox in London's Parliament Square. Mrs Cox was shot and stabbed in the street last Thursday while she was preparing to meet constituents in Birstall, near Leeds in northern England.
British MPs returned to Parliament yesterday for a special sitting to pay tribute to Mrs Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen constituency.PHOTOS: BRITISH PARLIAMENT TV

LONDON • On the final stretch before Britain's referendum on European Union membership, politicians from both sides of the divide returned to Parliament yesterday for a special sitting to pay tribute to Mrs Jo Cox, a pro-EU campaigner murdered last week.

The Parliament had been in recess to allow MPs to focus on campaigning in the final days running up to the EU referendum on Thursday.

But yesterday, the chamber was packed, with some people left standing.

Two roses - one red and one white - lay on where she used to sit.

Sporting a pallid rose on his chest, like all others present, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Mr John Bercow, began the first of a string of emotional tributes, calling Mrs Cox "a relentless campaigner for equality, human rights and social justice".

"We meet today in heartbreaking sadness and also in heartfelt solidarity. Any death in such awful circumstances is an outrage and a tragedy. Yet this death in this manner of this person, our democratically elected colleague, Jo Cox, is particularly shocking and repugnant," said Mr Bercow.

TIME FOR CHANGE

In her tragic death we can come together to change our politics. To tolerate a little more and condemn a little less.

LABOUR LEADER JEREMY CORBYN, who denounced the killing of Mrs Jo Cox as "an attack on our democracy" and "an attack on our society".

Mrs Cox, a 41-year-old mother of two young children, was shot and stabbed in the street while she was preparing to meet constituents in Birstall, near Leeds in northern England, last Thursday.

Eyewitnesses claimed her alleged killer, Thomas Mair, who was believed to have mental illness, had shouted out "Britain first", which is the name of a right-wing nationalist group that described itself on its website as "a patriotic political party and street defence organisation".

He made a brief appearance via videolink at London's Old Bailey criminal court yesterday, speaking only to confirm his name.

The Labour Party MP's family, including her husband, Mr Brendan Cox, and her children, held hands in the public gallery in the House of Commons as tributes flowed in the chamber yesterday .

Mrs Cox's three-year-old daughter Lejla was also seen playing with a drawing board as she sat on her father's knee, while her son Cuillin, five, snuggled up to his grand- mother, the Metro reported.

Mourning the loss of the MP for Batley and Spen constituency, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn denounced the killing as "an attack on our democracy" and "an attack on our society".

"In her tragic death we can come together to change our politics. To tolerate a little more and condemn a little less."

Prime Minister David Cameron said the former Oxfam aid group worker "lit up the lives of everybody who knew her, and saved the lives of many she never met".

Ms Rachel Reeves, Mrs Cox's close friend and a fellow Labour MP, struggled to contain her grief in her tribute.

"Batley and Spen will elect a new MP, but no one can replace a mother," said Ms Reeves as she choked back her tears.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2016, with the headline 'Special sitting of Parliament pays tribute to slain MP'. Print Edition | Subscribe