quinta-feira, 16 de junho de 2016
Jo Cox death unites Britain’s warring politicians in sorrow / Brexit campaign suspended as MP’s husband pleads for ‘unity against the hatred that killed her.’
Jo Cox death unites Britain’s warring politicians in sorrow
Brexit campaign suspended as MP’s husband pleads for ‘unity against the hatred that killed her.’
By TOM MCTAGUE 6/16/16, 10:42 PM CET Updated 6/16/16, 10:55 PM CET
LONDON — Britain’s angry and increasingly divisive EU referendum campaign cannot be the same again. The brutal killing of an MP has changed everything.
Westminster is in a state of shock. As the news of Jo Cox’s death broke early Thursday evening, the hostility that has defined much of the campaign appeared to drain away. For a short time at least, MPs were united in genuine shock and sadness at the loss of the 41-year-old mother of two little girls, aged three and five.
Many are simply scared for themselves and their families. The ever-increasing vitriol they have to face has become a daily part of their lives. Death threats on Twitter are common and assaults in constituency surgeries a growing menace. But no one in Westminster was braced for such a ferocious attack.
Labour MP David Lammy said his colleagues were walking around parliament in a state of shock. “People are standing in total disbelief,” he said.
The London MP revealed that he had written to the local authorities just last week about his own security after receiving two threats in the last month. “You’ve just got to look at the tone of some of the messages on Twitter,” he told Sky News.
‘Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life’ — Brendan Cox
It’s highly unlikely that the debate can return to normal any time soon. The slurs and abuse of the last few weeks will not be allowed to resume — not for a while at least.
The dignified call for unity from Cox’s husband makes it politically impossible for either side to quickly resume the war of words that has tarnished the campaign. Brendan Cox pledged to “fight against the hate that killed Jo” and called on MPs to help.
He said: “Jo believed in a better world and she 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.”
And yet, even in the immediate aftermath of the attack, the political implications for the referendum will undoubtedly be played out in both campaigns. London’s Evening Standard newspaper splashed the attack across its front page, announcing that a “Remain MP” had been gunned down. The language illustrates the extent to which next week’s vote has become the prism through which everything is now seen.
Later, at the police press conference to confirm Cox’s death, questions of motive dominated.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack it had been reported that the killer shouted “Britain First” as he stabbed, shot and kicked the Labour MP to death. The claim was quickly called into question, but police refused to deny its accuracy.
Casting a long shadow
In the next few days, the immediate impact on the Brexit campaign will be that it is effectively called off.
Vigils are being held in Cox’s constituency and in Westminster. There will be calls for tributes in the House of Commons, which has broken for recess.
George Osborne Thursday afternoon announced that his set-piece Mansion House speech would not go ahead. The Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney followed suit. The prime minister scrapped a planned rally in Gibraltar out of respect, flying back to Britain instead.
No campaign events will go ahead for either side Friday, with Labour considering a longer suspension over the weekend.
David Cameron’s appearance on the BBC’s special Question Time on Sunday is likely to mark the return to campaigning, but will still be overshadowed by the fallout from the attack.
Cameron knows well enough that in times of national mourning, part of his role as prime minister is to speak on behalf of the public — to unify and reassure. Even his fiercest detractors acknowledge it’s a role in which he excels.
As happened after the Paris attacks, support for a president or prime minister often rises in tragedy as people respond to their leadership.
With just a few days of campaigning left, those battling against Brexit — including almost all of Cox’s Labour Party colleagues — will hope that the sombre mood of the country takes some of the heat out of the debate which looked to be carrying the country out of the EU.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, is also likely to win respect for his dignified response to the tragedy, potentially winning back support from traditional party voters flirting with Brexit.
Speaking in the minutes following the announcement of Cox’s death, Corbyn said: “In the coming days, there will be questions to answer about how and why she died. But for now all our thoughts are with Jo’s husband Brendan and their two young children. They will grow up without their mum, but can be immensely proud of what she did, what she achieved and what she stood for.”
Of course, there will also be sympathy for the Labour Party — or at least a dimming of the animosity it is currently facing, further strengthening the Remain campaign.