International

Was Jo Cox a victim of the Brexit campaign?

The Union Jack flies at half mast in front of the Big Ben on Friday.

The Union Jack flies at half mast in front of the Big Ben on Friday.   | Photo Credit: Jack Taylor

The Labour MP's tragic death has ignited a new conversation around the referendum and its socially polarising impact.

With more eye-witnesses stepping forward to claim that the killer of the > 41-year-old Labour Member of Parliament Jo Cox shouted “Britain First” as he attacked her, it would appear that in the campaign for the June 23 EU referendum, Brexit has claimed its first victim.

There is still a great deal of circumspection, especially in the British media, in the reportage and commentary on the motive of Cox’s killer, locally identified (the police have not officially named him) as Tommy Mair, a 52-year old white male with a history of contact with right-wing neo-Nazi organisations.

Politically motivated

Enough, however, is known about him to suggest that this was a politically motivated hate-crime. The head of the right wing anti-immigrant organisation Britain First has issued a statement denying any involvement in her killing, but as The Guardian commentator Polly Toynbee wrote on Friday that it is the political environment of racism and hatred that set the context for Cox’s death. In an article in the conservative magazine Spectator, journalist Alex Massie writes about the anti-immigrant campaign poster released by leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party Nigel Farage on the morning of Cox’s murder. The words “Breaking Out” screams out above a picture of a thick queue of tired refugees waiting at a border pass. “When you shout BREAKING POINT over and over again, you don’t get to be surprised when someone breaks,” Mr. Maise writes.

Meanwhile, Cox is being mourned for the socially committed person she was in refugee camps in Syria and Palestine where she worked, and in her constituency, in Parliament and in the charities she worked for. A special session of Parliament has been called on Monday, just three days before the referendum.

Cox was one of the 12 first-time Labour Party women contestants elected to Parliament in the 2015 elections out of a total of 99 Labour Party women. She represented a new breed of young woman politician – well-prepared and outspoken in Parliament, visible in extra-parliamentary spaces, and popular in the constituency.

Force of nature

Before her election, Cox spent a career as an aid worker and charity campaigner. When Parliament was in session, she lived with her husband and two children in a reconverted Dutch barge moored on the Thames near the Tower of London from where she would cycle to work.

Described by a friend as a “force of nature” with determination to helping other people, > Cox’s tragic death has ignited a new conversation around the referendum and its socially polarising impact.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

null
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 9:11:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/Was-Jo-Cox-a-victim-of-the-Brexit-campaign/article14428110.ece

Next Story