Stephen Kinnock denounced the politics of division and fear
Some of Jo Cox’s closest allies and friends made frank statements about her political legacy in this afternoon’s special sitting in the House of Commons.
Stephen Kinnock, a longtime friend who shared an office with Cox, said that she understood that ‘rhetoric has consequences’ and denounced the politics of division and fear.
“Mr Speaker, I can only imagine Jo’s reaction has she seen the poster unveiled hours before her death. A poster on the streets of Britain that demonised hundreds of refugees, including hungry and terrified children, fleeing from the terror of ISIS and from Russian bombs.”
Wearing an ‘In’ badge, Kinnock was the only MP to directly denounce the rhetoric of certain elements of the Leave campaign, and to imply that it was connected to the ‘assassination’ of his friend and colleague.
Alison McGovern fought back tears as she quoted Cox’s speech in support of the Dubs Amendment, calling on the government to admit 3,000 unaccompanied Syrian children. McGovern spoke of Cox’s activism on human rights and gender equality, and spoke out against ‘cheap populism’.
“Those words from Jo’s maiden speech must ring out today. We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than the things that divide us. Cheap populism cannot take hold. . .you might be ferociously proud of your hometown, as Jo was, but you know that compassion doesn’t end at its boundaries.”
On the other side of the house, Andrew Mitchell—with whom Cox co-chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group on Syria—also emphasised that political action was the best way for parliament to honour the late MP.
“Jo would want those of us in this house to redouble our efforts to resolve the greatest catastrophe of our age, the crisis in Syria where the lives of more than 11 million people have been ruined, while the international community has shown itself disorganised, ineffective and supine.”
While many politicians and commentators shy away from discussing the politics of Cox’s death, it’s notable that those who worked most closely with her see her legacy as intrinsically political.
Other speakers from across the House of Commons emphasised her compassion, dedication to campaigning and willingness to work across party lines.
Every speaker offered condolences to her family, and particularly her husband and children, who attended the debate.
When the session was adjourned, the entire house broke parliamentary procedure with a minute of applause.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.