One year ago today, Jo Cox, an intelligent, caring and hard-working MP, wife and mother, was fatally shot and stabbed in her Batley and Spen constituency by a far-right extremist.
Jo, 41, was a popular Labour politician who supported Syrian refugees and had been campaigning to remain in the EU the day before her death.
The tragic news shocked the country just days before the referendum, putting a stop to campaigning and bridging the fierce political divide.
In the wake of her murder, Jo’s husband Brendan set up The Jo Cox Foundation to spread the message of unity she championed in her maiden House of Commons speech.
Speaking in June 2015, she memorably said: “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”
Several events are planned to mark the first anniversary of her death. There will be a memorial unveiled later today and a choir will sing in Birstall town centre, while this weekend will see more than 108,000 events held in local communities to spread Jo’s message far and wide.
Branded The Great Get Together, the nationwide celebration of “the things that bind us together” will include street parties, barbecues, football matches, picnics, concerts and bake-offs up and down the country.
Check out the official website for more information on what’s happening near you.
— Great Get Together (@great_together) June 16, 2017
Jo’s sister, Kim Leadbeater, insists that the events have “nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with anything other than getting together with people in your communities”.
Who was Jo?
Jo shared her time between her constituency and a houseboat moored near Tower Bridge.
She had two children, Lejla and Cuillin, who were aged three and five respectively when she died.
Born in the West Yorkshire town of Batley, she was a “proud Yorkshire lass” who enjoyed mountain climbing and was a passionate foreign aid worker.
Jo was educated at a state grammar school in Heckmondwike before studying social and political sciences at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where her interest in politics grew stronger. She was the first person in her family to graduate.
Post-graduation, she spent a decade fighting for humanitarian causes at home and abroad with Oxfam before working as an MP’s advisor.
Jo won the Batley and Spen seat in 2015 with 43.2 per cent of the vote, increasing its Labour majority.
Upon arrival in Parliament, she became known for supporting Syrian refugees and fighting to find a peaceful diplomatic solution to the conflict.
She backed Jeremy Corbyn for party leader and campaigned heavily for Remain, with many MPs describing her as one of Labour’s rising stars.
— Brendan Cox (@MrBrendanCox) June 16, 2016
Jo in her own words
“Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration, be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir. While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises 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.”
“Sometimes all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
“We have a duty to ensure that every child has access to the best possible education. It should not matter where they were born. No child should be left behind.”
One of liveliest, bravest & most passionate MPs. Thoughtful, creative, determined. Cannot believe we have lost you @Jo_Cox1
— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) June 16, 2016
“I never really grew up being political or Labour. It kind of came at Cambridge, where it was just a realisation that where you were born mattered. That how you spoke mattered, who you knew mattered. I didn’t really speak right or knew the right people.”
“My summer jobs for three years were going to work in my dad’s factory and earn a bit of pocket money. I absolutely loved it and I think I learnt more there than I did at Cambridge, actually, in terms of how hard work is and how tough it is finding a job, keeping a job, managing a job and family and commitments outside of work.”
“With people queuing to access food banks in my constituency, does the Prime Minister think it is a priority for the country to bring back fox hunting?”