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Widower of MP Jo Cox claims she was killed because of her 'very strong' views

Published 21/06/2016

A member of the congregation reading an Order of Service, as they attend a service of prayer and remembrance to commemorate Jo Cox MP at St Margaret's Church, London
A member of the congregation reading an Order of Service, as they attend a service of prayer and remembrance to commemorate Jo Cox MP at St Margaret's Church, London

The widower of tragic MP Jo Cox has claimed she was killed because of her "very strong" views, and was worried about the direction of British politics.

Brendan Cox said the public reaction to her death had been "off the scale" and had made a "really important contribution" to the healing process for the couple's two children.

He indicated that he would like to see a female MP take Mrs Cox's former Batley and Spen seat, suggesting that would be "lovely symbolism".

Mr Cox said his wife had concerns about the culture of politics around the world: " I think she was very worried that the language was coarsening, that people were being driven to take more extreme positions, that people didn't work with each other as individuals and on issues, it was all much too tribal and unthinking.

"And she was particularly worried - we talked about this regularly - particularly worried about the direction of, not just in the UK but globally, the direction of politics at the moment, particularly around creating division and playing on people's worst fears rather than their best instincts. So we talked about that a lot and it was something that worried her."

Asked whether he was concerned about people using her death in public debate, he said: "She was a politician and she had very strong political views and I believe she was killed because of those views. I think she died because of them, and she would want to stand up for those in death as much as she did in life."

Expressing his thanks for the "incredible" public support following her death, he said: "The two things that I've been very focused on is how do we support and protect the children, and how do we make sure that something good comes out of this.

"And what the public support and outpouring of love around this does, is it also helps the children see that what they're feeling and other people are feeling, that the grief that they feel, isn't abnormal, that they feel it more acutely and more painfully and more personally, but that actually their mother was someone who was loved by lots of people and that therefore, it's OK to be upset and it's OK for them to cry and to be sad about it."

Labour MP Mrs Cox's death has left t hree-year-old daughter Lejla and son Cuillin, five, without their mother and Mr Cox said the outpouring of public emotion would help their healing process.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Cox said: "I've spent a lot of time in the last couple of days talking to child psychologists, and one of the things they say is that that understanding of it being okay to be sad, and to be distressed, and to talk about it, is really important.

"So just on that very basic level it makes a really important contribution to their healing I think. And then also it gives us some hope that something positive can come out of something which is so horrendous; that there can be a reaction to this horrific action."

The MP died after being shot and stabbed in an attack in her Batley and Spen seat in West Yorkshire.

It would have been her 42nd birthday on Wednesday and events including a rally in Trafalgar Square have been planned to mark the occasion.

Mr Cox said: "I hope that it will help with the grieving process of our family and our children in particular. But then I also hope that it will bring people together and send a message that counts, not just in the next few weeks but in the few months, and it changes the way that people think about how you do politics, how you engage with each other, how you treat people."

Had she lived, the MP would have been out on the streets campaigning for a Remain vote in the EU referendum, he said.

But she was "worried about the tone of the debate" amid concerns it was "whipping up fears and whipping up hatred potentially".

Asked if he was considering standing for the Batley and Spen seat in the by-election, which rival parties have said they will not contest, Mr Cox said: "No, my only overriding priority at the moment is how I make sure that I protect my family and my kids through this and how they're okay."

He added: "I hope that whoever replaces her will become another female Member of Parliament."

That would mean there are 100 female Labour MPs " so I think that will be a lovely symbolism".

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