Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Crowds applaud MP Jo Cox's funeral cortege

Hundreds of people have lined the streets to pay their respects to Labour MP Jo Cox ahead of her private funeral.

Mrs Cox's funeral cortege travelled through her Batley and Spen constituency in West Yorkshire, slowing down in the town of Heckmondwike before continuing to Batley.

The mother of two young children died on June 16 after being shot and stabbed outside a library in Birstall.

Her killing provoked a wave of shock around the UK and across the world.

Members of the public, including schoolchildren, gathered in Heckmondwike to say a final farewell to the MP.

Well-wishers applauded as the funeral cars made the journey through the town. Many threw flowers in the path of the cortege as it passed the market place.

Children from Norristhorpe Junior and Infant School were among the first of the mourners to throw white roses in the path of the cars.

One woman walked into the road as the cars passed to lay a large bouquet on the bonnet of the grey hearse, which was strewn with roses and sunflowers.

Mrs Cox's coffin could be seen in the back of the vehicle surrounded by white floral tributes.

In Batley, the crowds also applauded as the cortege made its way through the town and threw flowers in front of the vehicles.

Mrs Cox's family asked that the funeral service remained a small private occasion for close friends and family only.

Mrs Cox had only been an MP for just over a year when she was killed, having been elected for the Batley and Spen constituency, where she grew up, in last year's general election.

Her dedication to a range of causes, both as an MP and in her previous work with development charities, has drawn praise from all sides of the political spectrum and prompted calls for a rethink of the public's attitude to public figures and the nature of political discourse.

Mrs Cox's widower, Brendan, led tributes to his wide, joining thousands of people across the country and around the world who paused on what would have been her 42nd birthday to reflect on a woman who "just wanted people to be happy".

Before this, former prime minister David Cameron and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited Birstall market square together to add their tributes to a sea of floral memorials, yards from where the tragedy happened.

Mr Cameron praised the young MP as "a voice of compassion whose irrepressible spirit and boundless energy lit up the lives of all who knew her".

Mr Corbyn said British society had lost "one of our very best".

Earlier this week, Mrs Cox's family issued a statement, which said: "We have been overwhelmed and touched by the love and support people have shown us since Jo's death. We are deeply grateful to all who have reached out to us.

"Knowing that so many people share both our grief and our determination to take forward Jo's legacy is a source of great strength at what otherwise feels like a very bleak time.

"Now, particularly for the children, we have decided that Jo's funeral will be a very small and private family affair. Anybody from the local community who would like to pay their respects is welcome to gather along the areas outlined as we make this last journey.

"Following this, we would ask everyone to respect our privacy to enable us to grieve and rebuild as a family."

:: Thomas Mair, 52, has appeared at the Old Bailey in central London charged with murdering Mrs Cox.

He is also charged with grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon.

He was remanded in custody and is due to go on trial in November.

Mrs Cox's constituents joined politicians in paying tribute to the MP on the day of her funeral.

One shop in Heckmondwike placed a hand-painted sign on the pavement next to a bunch of flowers reading: "We've lost you but you have inspired one."

A number of posters were attached to signposts around the town, featuring a drawing of Mrs Cox, a quote from the MP and the words: "Today I pledge to #LoveLikeJo. I will."

After the cortege passed through the town, one man turned away and said: "She was such a nice woman."

Claire Lyles, the headteacher at Norristhorpe Junior and Infant School, said she took a group of Year Five children to pay their respects after meeting Mrs Cox and performing at an event for the MP's birthday after her death.

She said: "Originally, Jo came to visit our school to see our children because she'd heard that they'd performed at the Royal Albert Hall. We put on a special assembly for her and she lit up the whole room. Everyone was really touched by her presence, really, and she wrote to us afterwards."

The headteacher added: "We chose to go down today because she really meant something to the schoolchildren and the whole community.

"It was a really emotional time but a really touching time and the children felt they wanted to mark that occasion. They'd had the chance to meet her family at Batley Town Hall and today the family recognised them and waved to the children as they went by so they were really touched.

"They understood the significance of the occasion and could mark the occasion."

Ms Lyles said the children have performed with the Batley Community Choir on a memorial single for Mrs Cox, which is due to be released on Saturday.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn used Twitter, along with other MPs, to pay his respects to Mrs Cox with a link to her maiden speech in the House of Commons.

He tweeted: "My thoughts are with Jo Cox's close family and friends who will be at her funeral today."

Angela Eagle also tweeted a tribute, writing: "Thoughts with Brendan Cox, and Jo's family and friends on the day of her funeral #MoreInCommon #LoveLikeJo."

Paula Sherriff, Labour MP for Dewsbury, was in Heckmondwike to pay her respects to her colleague. She later tweeted: " Rest In Peace Jo #JoCoxMP #LoveLikeJo #LoveWins."

The Labour Party also used social media to thank people for signing their online book of condolence for Mrs Cox. It said: " We received thousands of wonderful tributes which we'll send to her family."

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett tweeted: "Thinking today of Jo Cox's children and husband, her friends, and her community. RIP."

Before the funeral, Mrs Cox's husband, Brendan, commented on the terror attack in Nice.

He wrote: " Jo would ask us not to fight hate with hate but draw together to drain the swamp that extremism breeds in.Thinking of all victims of hatred today."


From Belfast Telegraph