This post may be updated as new information becomes available…
British Labour Party MP Jo Cox died on Thursday after being both stabbed and shot following an event in Yorkshire with local constituents.
As the nation responded to the news with shock and sadness, the police said they are continuing their investigation amid some reports suggesting the killing was politically motivated.
Dee Collins, the chief constable of West Yorkshire police, confirmed to reporters that a suspect is in custody but said investigators are not able to discuss possible motives at this time.
The Guardian newspaper has posted a powerful obituary of the 41-year-old wife, mother of two, and humanitarian turned lawmaker. In addition, the paper’s editorial board published a sharp rebuke to the violence that took her life and the politics of hatred and divisiveness that may have played a role in motivating her murder.
“What nobler vision can there be than that of a society where people can be comfortable in their difference?” it read in part. “And what more fundamental tenet of decency is there than to put first and to cherish all that makes us human, as opposed to what divides one group from another? These are ideals that are often maligned when they are described as multiculturalism, but they are precious nonetheless. They are the ideals which led Ms Cox to campaign tirelessly for the brutalised and displaced people of Syria, and – the most painful thought – ideals for which she may now have died.”
Following confirmation of her death, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn issued the following statement:
Meanwhile, Brendan Cox, her husband and the father of their two young daughters, sent out this solemn, wordless tweet:
Subsequently, he released the following statement:
British Labour Party MP Jo Cox is in critical condition after being shot and stabbed during a violent attack on Thursday, according to breaking news reports in the UK.
Though details remain incomplete, Cox was reportedly in the town of Birstall when the attack occurred and witness accounts suggest the violence may have been politically motivated.
According to an eye-witness account reported on the Mirror’s live coverage page, the suspected gunman—who was subsequently detained by police—shouted “Britain First” as he gunned down Cox. That phrase is a reference to the upcoming referendum in the UK on whether or not the country will stay in the European Union. Cox, a left-wing member of Parliament and former head of policy and humanitarian campaigning for Oxfam, has been an outspoken critic of the so-called “Brexit” from the EU.
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Far-right and nationalist factions of the Leave Campaign have been roundly criticized for using xenophobic language and bigotry against immigrants and refugees as they argue in favor of the Brexit.
And as Liam O’Hare, a journalist with RTUK, noted on Twitter, “If true that Jo Cox’s attacker shouted ‘Britain First’ then this should be categorised as a far-right terrorist attack.”
According to Sky News, the witness said the shooter looked to be in his 60s or 70s—though police later stated the man in their custody was in his early 50s.
Though the possible motivations behind Thursday’s violence remain unknown as of this writing, if it is confirmed that political views played a role it would not be the first time Cox has experienced physical aggression from #VoteLeave advocates. As this tweet from Cox’s husband from Wednesday of this week shows:
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn responded to the news on Twitter. “Utterly shocked by the news of the attack on Jo Cox,” Corbyn wrote. “The thoughts of the whole Labour Party are with her and her family at this time.”
Progressive columnist Owen Jones tweeted: “Horrendous. All my thoughts with [Jo Cox].”
Following the attack, local police released the following statement:
Live Sky News coverage continues: