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Remembering Jo Cox: Labour MP, social activist, mum-of-two and boat dweller

Jo Cox died this afternoon after she was shot twice and stabbed outside a library near Leeds.

Jo Cox shooting Source: Yui Mok/PA Wire

MUM. PROUD YORKSHIRE Lass. Labour MP for Batley & Spen. Boat dweller. Mountain climber. Former aid worker.

That’s how Jo Cox described herself on her Twitter account.

There, her 15,000 plus followers saw her passion about foreign policy, international development, early-years education and ending social isolation.

She quoted articles, shared links and discussed the importance of Britain remaining in the EU, dealing properly with immigration and supporting local charities.

Those who campaigned with her, her constituents and those she ideologically fought with are in mourning today after a devastating daytime killing.

The mother-of-two died this afternoon after an attack on the street close to a library near Leeds as she went about her work.

The British MP for Batley and Spen had been hosting an advice clinic at a library in Birstall Yorkshire when she was grabbed by the man, who shot her twice and stabbed her.

She was taken to Leeds General Infirmary immediately after the incident, but sadly passed away a few hours later.

Married to Brendan Cox, the couple have two young children which her husband has since vowed to “bathe in love”.

He has also promised to “fight against the hate that killed Jo”.

In the emotional statement, he said that one of her greatest wishes in life was to ‘unite against hate’. It was this motivation that brought her into the political arena.

A successful career

The 41-year-old (who was due to celebrate a birthday next week) was co-chair of the newly-formed Friends of Syria All Party Parliamentary Group and also worked actively on groups focused on Palestine, Pakistan, Kashmir and Yorkshire’s regional economy.

Cox entered the House of Commons following last May’s general election with 43.2% of the vote in Batley and Spen.

Like the vast majority of Labour MPs, she had recently been campaigning for Britain to stay in the European Union in the 23 June referendum.

Yesterday evening, Jo retweeted a Guardian and Financial Times article about the importance of staying in the EU. She also shared pictures of her family on a boat, protesting against UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage’s flotilla.

Early life and college years

Cox was born in Heckmondwike and Batley, in West Yorkshire. Her father worked in a toothpaste factory and her mother was a school secretary.

She went on to attend Cambridge University and graduated in 1995. She was the first in her family to graduate from university.

download Source: Yui Mok

Early career

Her first job after graduation was in Parliament for Joan Walley. During her time with the MP, she helped launched a pro-European campaign group called Britain in Europe.

She then spent two years in Brussels, working with Baroness Glenys Kinnock.

A move to aid agency Oxfam saw her fill roles such as head of policy and head of humanitarian campaigning over the next 10 years.

Jo also worked closely with Gordon Brown’s wife, Sarah, on the issue of women and babies dying during pregnancy and childbirth.

Family life

Her husband Brendan Cox was an adviser to former prime minister Gordon Brown on Africa and international development. He was also the chief executive of Crisis Action organisation and the director of policy and advocacy at the Save the Children charity.

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The couple and their two young children lived on a house-boat on the River Thames.


Tributes have poured in for Jo and her family today, the Prime Minister describing her as “bright star”.

Both sides of the debate on Britain leaving the European Union have expressed their sadness about Jo’s death.

Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn voiced his shock through a statement on Twitter this evening.

Prime Minister David Cameron also shared a tribute on Twitter.

Politicians in Ireland have also extended their sympathies to the family of Jo Cox.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said his thoughts are first and foremost with Jo’s husband and their two young children.

He added:

It is clearly the case that this attack was perpetrated on a democratically elected Member of Parliament who was simply going about the business of representing the interests of her constituents.

President Michael D Higgins said he received the news with “the greatest sadness”.

Giving public service, assisting others and sharing in discourse at times of divided opinion is a necessary part of democracy. To see a young parliamentarian killed in the course of her work is especially shocking. That she has died in that service makes a dreadful comment on our times. Her loss must not be in vain.

With additional reporting by AFP

About the author:

Roisin Nestor

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