British Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered in broad daylight in her West Yorkshire constituency. Cox was repeatedly shot and stabbed by a man who witnesses report shouting “Britain first”. Cox was a week shy of her 42nd birthday. She is survived by her husband and two young children.
The incident took place following a surgery (a term used by British MPs concerning one on one meetings they have with constituents in a public setting.) Cox was elected to the House of Commons during last year’s election representing one of Labour’s few bright spots in a night that resulted in a Tory majority for David Cameron. Cox was viewed as an up and comer within the Parliamentary Labour Party and had managed to stay out of the turmoil which has besieged the party since its members elected Jeremy Corbyn as its leader last September. She was most noted for her advocacy for Syrian refugees.
This is reminiscent of the attack on former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords a few years back though Giffords, of course, survived her injuries but would have to leave elected office. Had such an attack occurred in this country it would have renewed the gun control debate (as it did with Giffords and we have seen following the terrorist attack in Orlando). However, Britain has very tight gun control and legally obtaining a firearm is very difficult.
I suspect that the fallout from this heinous act will revolve around next week’s Brexit referendum particularly in light of the “Britain first” comments which the perpetrator is alleged to have made during the attacks. There has been strong momentum on the Leave side in recent weeks, but something like this could change things.
For the moment, the Leave and Remain campaigns have been suspended for a day out of respect for Cox. I would hope the Remain campaign will refrain from using Cox’s murder as a means by which to demonize the Leave campaign. If they manage such restraint, it would be a triumph for civility and reason. But human nature is human nature and passion has a way of devouring civility and reason. The best way for the Remain campaign to honor Cox’s memory would be to simply state the reasons why she preferred Britain to remain in Europe. Nothing more, nothing less.
Regardless of whether Britain remains with or leaves Europe, people will still be capable of the cruelest of acts. R.I.P.