Shock over murder of "compassionate and principled" Labour MP Jo Cox

Mother of two young children killed in attack outside her advice clinic in West Yorkshire

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Jo Cox. Image: Yui Mok / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Tributes have been paid from across the world to the British Labour MP murdered in her constituency. 

Jo Cox, 41, a wife and mother of two children, was shot and stabbed in the street in West Yorkshire yesterday.

A 52-year-old man, named locally as Tommy Mair, has been arrested in connection with the attack. 

Her grieving husband said the former aid worker "believed in a better world" and "fought for it every day of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people".

"She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her.

"Hate doesn't have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous," Brendan Cox said. 

Mrs Cox was elected as Labour MP for Batley and Spen in the 2015 general election.

Seen as a rising star of the party, she was due to celebrate her 42nd birthday next Wednesday.

She was born in Batley, West Yorkshire, grew up in Heckmondwike and studied at Cambridge University, graduating in 1995. 

She lived with her family on a converted barge, moored near London's Tower Bridge. 

Prior to entering politics, she was head of policy for the charity Oxfam. 

Despite a keen interest in overseas issues, Ms Cox had spoken of the importance of her roots. 

Speaking to the Yorkshire Post last December, she said that after a happy childhood, going to Cambridge University had unsettled her. 

"I never really grew up being political or Labour.

"It kind of came at Cambridge where it was just a realisation that where you were born mattered. That how you spoke mattered... who you knew mattered.

"I didn’t really speak right or knew the right people ... To be honest my experience at Cambridge really knocked me for about five years."

'Deep commitment to humanity'

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn yesterday said the whole party is in shock "at the horrific murder" of Jo Cox.

In a statement, Mr Corbyn said: "Jo had a lifelong record of public service and a deep commitment to humanity. She worked both for Oxfam and the anti-slavery charity, the Freedom Fund, before she was elected last year.

"Jo was dedicated to getting us to live up to our promises to support the developing world and strengthen human rights and she brought those values and principles with her when she became an MP.

"Jo died doing her public duty at the heart of our democracy, listening to and representing the people she was elected to serve. It is a profoundly important cause for us all.

"Jo was universally liked at Westminster, not just by her Labour colleagues, but across Parliament."

The deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said: "The whole of the Labour movement is devastated at Jo's death.

"It is hard to comprehend how a compassionate, principled and beautiful person can be taken away from us so cruelly."

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "The death of Jo Cox is a tragedy. She was a committed and caring MP. My thoughts are with her husband Brendan and her two young children."

Home Secretary Theresa May said Mrs Cox was one of the "brightest and most popular" MPs and the pain her family and friends are suffering is  "unimaginable".

'Political intolerance'

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton led the international tributes, saying she was "horrified by the assassination".

"Her maiden speech in Parliament celebrated the diversity of her beloved Yorkshire constituency, and passionately made the case that there is more that unites us than divides us," Mrs Clinton said. 

"It is cruel and terrible that her life was cut short by a violent act of political intolerance."

Former US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in 2011, said she was "absolutely sickened".

She tweeted that Mrs Cox was a "courageous, young and a hard-working public servant. She was a rising star, a mother and a wife."

Irish politicians have also been expressing their condolences to Mrs Cox's family.

In a statement, President Higgins said: "As all of us sympathise with her family, including her young children, all of us who are committed to democratic politics must also acknowledge our being shocked, appalled and outraged at the attack on her."