David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn unite to honour Jo Cox

Written by David Singleton on 17 June 2016 in Diary

Read the full speeches delivered by the Tory and Labour leaders.

David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn arrived together in Birstall, Leeds to lay flowers in honour of murderered Labour MP Jo Cox.

Cameron called for hatred, division and intolerance to be driven out of politics and public life, while Corbyn said that a “well of hatred” had killed the Labour MP.

The rival party leaders were joined by Commons speaker John Bercow and shadow foreign secretary (and Leeds MP) Hilary Benn.

Their joint appearance came as it was confirmed that the Commons will be recalled on Monday for tributes to Cox.

Cameron said: “I first met Jo in Darfur in 2006 where she was doing what she was brilliant at, which was looking after and saving the lives of vulnerable refugees. And here we are today commemorating her life that’s been lost.

“And of course the most profound thing that has happened is that two children have lost their mother, a husband has lost a loving wife, and parliament has lost one of its most passionate and brilliant campaigners, someone who epitomised the fact that politics is about serving others.

“Today our nation is rightly shocked. And I think it is a moment to stand back and think about some of the things that are so important about our country. The fact that we should treasure and value our democracy, where members of parliament are out in the public, accountable to the public, available to the public, and that’s how Jo died. She died doing her job.

“I think the second thing is that we should recognise that politics is about public service. People who go into public life, they want to act in the public interest, to pursue the national interest, to do things for other people, to make the country, make the world a better place. Politicians disagree with each other. We often disregard what politicians say, disregard each other and the rest of it. But at the end of the day that is what it is about, and that is what Jo showed it is all about.

“But, perhaps, most important of all, we should value and see as precious the democracy that we have on these islands where 65 million of us live together and work together and get on together. We do have peace, we do have stability and we do have a measure of economic wellbeing better than other countries, obviously still to be spread far more widely. And it is all underpinned by tolerance. So where we see hatred, where we find division, where we see intolerance, we must drive it out of our politics and out of our public life and out of our communities.

“And if we truly want to honour Jo, then what we should do is recognise that her values - service, community, tolerance - the values she lived by and worked by, those are the values that we need to redouble in our national life in the months and years to come.



Corbyn said: “We need our whole society to be secure. Jo was brutally murdered here 24 hours ago in this town, a town she loved, a town she grew up in serving a community she had loved.

“In her life she had worked for anti-slavery campaigns, she had worked for Oxfam, she was a campaigner for human rights and justice all around the world.

“She was taken from us in an act of hatred, in a vile act that has killed her. It’s an attack on democracy, what happened yesterday; it’s the well of hatred that killed her.

“She leaves behind a husband who made a truly wonderful statement yesterday, a statement saying that in her memory we would try to conquer hatred with love and with respect. She also leaves behind two young children who will never see their mother again. They will only be able to grow up knowing what she was, what she stood for, and what she achieved.

“I’ve asked the prime minister and the Speaker for the recall of parliament on Monday, and they have accepted that request, and parliament will be recalled on Monday so that we can pay due tribute to her on behalf of everybody in this country who values democracy, values the right of free speech and values the right of political expression, free from the kind of brutality that Jo suffered.

“That’s why we all need to come together, to understand that everyone must have protection and security in order to function in a democratic society.

“Jo was an exceptional, wonderful, very talented woman, taken from us in her early 40s when she had so much to give and so much of her life ahead of her.

“It’s a tragedy beyond tragedy what happened yesterday. In her memory, we will not allow those people who spread hatred and poison to divide our society. We will strengthen our democracy, strengthen our free speech.

“She was a truly wonderful woman. I’m deeply sorry, deeply sad at what has happened to her and my condolences to all the people of Batley and Spen who she represented so well, and, of course, to her wonderful family, her husband, her children and all of her wider family.”


Picture by: Danny Lawson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

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