MP's husband and father of their two children pays tribute to Jo Cox, saying: 'Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.'
Jo Cox, the MP who has died after an attack in the street in her Yorkshire constituency, described herself on Twitter like this: ‘Mum. Proud Yorkshire Lass. Labour MP for Batley & Spen. Boat dweller. Mountain climber. Former aid worker.’
Jo, 41, was elected to Parliament in the safe Labour seat in 2015. Before that she had been a political adviser, then worked for Oxfam, rising from being an aid worker in danger zones including Darfur and Afghanistan to becoming the charity’s head of policy. She also worked with Sarah Brown on her campaign against global maternal and child death rates, as well as for anti-slavery group the Freedom Fund.
She was the first in her family to go to university, winning a place at Cambridge to study social and political sciences. Her mother was a school secretary and her father worked in a factory. Jo stood out at Heckmondwike Grammar School, where she was head girl. Headteacher Mike Cook said that Jo ‘[made] an impact everywhere she went,’ adding: ‘Driven by a deep urge to do what is right, and to stand up for the disadvantaged and those in our world least able to represent themselves, Jo gave a voice to the powerless. She did so with great compassion and tireless determination, and she did so peacefully.’
When in London, Jo and her family, husband Brendan and two young children, lived on a houseboat moored at Tower Bridge.
In her maiden speech to Parliament, Jo, who was campaigning passionately for the ‘Remain’ camp in the EU referendum, spoke about the multiculturalism in her constituency and how communities had been ‘deeply enhanced’ by immigrants ranging from Irish Catholics to Muslims from India and Pakistan. She added: ‘While we celebrate our diversity, what surprised me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.’
Jo was also a campaigner for women’s rights and was a national chair of Labour’s women’s network.
It has emerged that the MP had been being harassed with abusive messages for three months and that police had been due to increase security.
Her husband Brendan, made a moving statement immediately after her death on Thursday 16 June, saying: ‘Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love. I and Jo’s friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo. Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people.’
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He continued: ‘She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous. Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.’