Far-right groups boo and jeer during by-election tribute to Jo Cox after Batley and Spen vote

Rivals yell 'she's a racist' at new MP

Harriet Agerholm
Friday 21 October 2016 11:00
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Far-right groups boo and jeer during tribute to Jo Cox after by-election

Far-right groups booed and jeered a newly elected MP as she paid tribute to murdered colleague Jo Cox.

Former Coronation Street actress Tracy Brabin won the Batley and Spen by-election against candidates from independent and fringe parties.

The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Ukip and Greens all decided not to contest the seat out of respect for Ms Cox, who was killed days before the EU referendum.

Contenders in the election included representatives from far-right groups such as the National Front and the British National Party.

And some of Ms Brabin's opponents opted to heckle her as she gave her acceptance speech, with one shouting "she's a racist".

Ms Brabin, who took almost 82 per cent of the vote, honoured Ms Cox and said winning was "bittersweet".

"This has been a difficult experience for all of us and tonight is a bittersweet occasion for me. That this by-election has had to take place at all is a tragedy," she said.

"I hope Jo will be proud tonight of our community. We have shown that we stand together with one voice choosing unity and hope."

Turnout for the vote was just 25 per cent: one of the lowest for a by-election since the Second World War.

Following her acceptance speech, Ms Brabin told Sky News the heckling "just shows who they are".

"The people of Batley and Spen have given me a mandate but they've [the other parties] lost their deposits.

"I get to work and feel very supported. I feel the people of Batley and Spen behind me."

Asked about the turnout she said: "Well, it's a wet Thursday in October. But I think 85 per cent, or whatever it is, is very good.

"And I feel that the community have said what was for us a tragedy has turned into an opportunity to show hatred and they didn't buy it."

Mrs Cox's widower, Brendan Cox, congratulated Ms Brabin on her victory on Twitter. He also tweeted a picture of he and his wife during the 2015 general election.

He said: "This was Jo at the general election count last year as I briefed her on the numbers. She was calm, serene and full of grace that night."

Meanwhile, another by-election in the safe Conservative seat of Witney in Oxfordshire elected a replacement for David Cameron, who gave up his seat last month.

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