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John McDonnell calls Jo Cox's murder 'an attack on democracy itself'

The shadow Chancellor says Parliament was robbed of a fierce advocate for social justice

Katie Forster
Wednesday 23 November 2016 14:51 GMT
McDonnell responding to Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement in the Commons
McDonnell responding to Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement in the Commons (PA)

John McDonnell opened his response to Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement with a tribute to Jo Cox.

The shadow Chancellor said Ms Cox’s killing was “an attack on democracy itself” after right-wing extremist Thomas Mair was found guilty of her murder.

“This morning we’ve heard the verdict from the trial following the tragic murder of Jo Cox,” Mr McDonnell told the House of Commons.

“Jo Cox’s murder robbed this house of a fierce advocate for social justice and a passionate campaigner.

“Her killing was an attack on democracy itself. Our thoughts are with her family this morning.”

Mair was convicted of murdering the 41-year-old Remain campaigner and mother-of-two outside her West Yorkshire constituency surgery in the run-up to the EU referendum.

Mair was jailed for a whole-life sentence for what the MP’s widower, Brendan Cox, branded “a political act and an act of terrorism”.

Jeremy Corbyn also called Ms Cox’s murder “an attack on democracy” and said it had “robbed the world of an ambassador of kindness and compassion”.

Following her murder, Mr Corbyn said that British society had lost “one of our very best”.

Speaking after the guilty verdicts were announced, he said: “Jo Cox believed passionately that all people can achieve their full potential given the opportunity.”

“Jo’s values were lived out in her last moments, when she bravely put the safety of her staff before her own,” he said.

“Jo is someone the Labour Party will forever be extremely proud of.”

“The single biggest tribute we can pay to Jo and her life will be to confront those who wish to promote the hatred and division that led to her murder.”

Mr Corbyn called Ms Cox a “loving mother and wife” and said he hoped the verdict had “delivered some sense of justice to those grieving, particularly Jo’s family, who all of our thoughts are with at this time”.

Sue Hemming, head of the Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “On 16 June, Thomas Mair carried out the brutal murder of Jo Cox – a defenceless mother of two young children who served her constituents with passion, exuberance and vitality and was proud to represent a diverse community.

“Several people courageously intervened to try and save Ms Cox, including 77-year-old Bernard Kenny who was stabbed by Mair and sustained serious injuries as a result.

“Mair has offered no explanation for his actions but the prosecution was able to demonstrate that, motivated by hate, his pre-meditated crimes were nothing less than acts of terrorism designed to advance his twisted ideology.”

Additional reporting from Press Association

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