MP tributes to Jo Cox: ‘She was a comet that lit up the dark’

Written by Matthew Chapman on 20 June 2016 in Diary

MPs from across the House showered praised on Jo Cox.

The House of Commons was united in its tributes for Jo Cox as MPs told anecdotes that paid testament her “awe-inspiring” character.

Members of all the major parties spoke of their admiration for Cox and the depth of the loss caused by her murder, as they returned to Westminster from the EU referendum recess to pay tribute.

Speaker John Bercow kicked off the tributes to Cox’s “outstanding qualities” and described the former MP for the Batley and Spen constituency as “caring, eloquent and wise”.

In a break from tradition and as a mark of respect, leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn spoke before the Prime Minister and highlighted how Cox “saw a world of neighbours and believed every life counted”.

David Cameron spoke of the warm welcome he received from Cox when he first met her when she was working as an aid worker in Darfur in 2006 despite him being unpopular among Cox’s colleagues due to his position as Conservative leader of the opposition.

“Jo Cox was a voice of compassion whose irrepressible spirit and boundless energy lit up the lives of all who knew her and saved the lives of many she never met,” said Cameron. “Jo was a humanitarian to her core, a passionate and brilliant campaigner, whose grit and determination to fight for justice helped to expose the despicable practice of rape in war.”

He added: “If you lost your way for a minute in the cut of thrust of political life meeting Jo would remind you why you went into politics in the first place. “

Anecdotes to Cox’s character flowed thick and fast including Labour MP Rachel Reeves reminiscing that when Cox shadowed her before becoming an MP that “by the end of the day people weren’t sure who the MP was and who as doing the shadowing”.

Andrew Mitchell described how he and Cox had become friends despite him being a “crusty old Tory” and told of how he was in a meeting where she once “dressed” down the Russian ambassador over his country’s actions in Syria.

SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford, speaking on behalf of the SNP and Plaid Cymru, described how Cox’s diminutive stature did not hold her back at the MacMillan cancer support Parliamentary tug of war.

“The conventional wisdom is height and weight are distinct advantages in tug of war. Jo had neither of those attributes, her stature was only thing about her that was diminutive,” said Whiteford. “Nevertheless there she was she pulling with every ounce of her strength and fibre of her being with sheer dogged determination.”

Labour MP Holly Lynch said Cox “was the very best of us”.

“The honourable member for Redcar told me she will remember Jo as a comet, burning brightly, lighting up the dark, awe inspiring and giving off sparks of heat light and positive energy,” said Lynch. “She was the heart and soul of these benches and we are heartbroken.”

Controversy about the highly charged EU Referendum campaigning was briefly slipped into proceedings by Cox’s friend of 20 years and Labour MP Stephen Kinnock.

He said Cox would have “responded with outrage” to the “calculated cynicism” of the ‘breaking point’ anti-immigration poster unveiled by Nigel Farage shortly before her death.
“On Thursday Jo was assassinated for what she was and what she stood for,” said Kinnock. “Let us build a politics of hope not hate.”

Many tributes were paid to Cox’s love of her family, which she placed above all else and also elicited tears from MPs in the chamber.

Struggling to hold back her tears, Rachel Reeves concluded: “Batley and Spen will go on to replace their MP but no one can replace a mother.”


(Image credit: PA)

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