Syria debate: Alison McGovern MP pays tribute to her best friend Jo Cox

'She would have been here and she would have known what was needed'

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 11 October 2016 17:15
Alison McGovern breaks down in Parliament talking about Jo Cox

Labour MP Alison McGovern, one of Jo Cox’s best friends in Parliament, fought back tears as she paid tribute to her former colleague’s commitment to helping refugees.

In an impassioned speech during an emergency debate on Syria, Ms McGovern told the Commons what she thought Ms Cox would have made of the unfolding situation and the besieged city of Aleppo. Ms Cox was killed outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, near Leeds, just days before the EU referendum.

Fighting back tears, Ms McGovern, the MP for Wirral South, said "I cannot help noting that in serving as co-chair of the [All-Party] Friends of Syria group, I am taking up the role of my friend Jo Cox.

"She would have been here and she would have known what was needed.

"Most of all, I think she would have said we should help refugees fleeing Syria, not just 20,000 by 2020, but many more, much more quickly."

Before her death, Mrs Cox called for the Government to resettle more refugees from Syria and other conflict zones, particularly unaccompanied children. Responding to Ms McGovern, fellow Labour MP John Woodcock said: "There is no one better who could seek to step into the shoes of our dear missed friend Jo Cox than her."

Ann Clwyd, another Labour MP, added that people who care about the plight of Syrian civilians should protest outside the Russian embassies across the globe every day until the country ends its bombing campaign.

Ms Clwyd, who served as special envoy on human rights in Iraq from 2003 until 2010, said worldwide protests would make it "crystal clear" to Russia and the regime of president Bashar Assad that "we think their actions are deplorable". Speaking during an emergency debate on the situation in the Syrian city of Aleppo, she said: "We need to speak up for and on behalf of our common humanity.

"So I would therefore call once again on everyone who cares about the plight of Syrian civilians to picket the Russian embassy in London and in capitals around the world from today.

"Two million, three million, four million people. It can be done. It has been done in the past.

"That should carry on until the bombing campaign stops and all the relevant players are forced to get around the table to end this horrible war."

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