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Jo Cox murder suspect Tommy Mair 'a loner who has long-term links to hard-right'

By PA Reporters

The man arrested over the killing of Labour MP Jo Cox is believed to have long-term links with a hard-right group based in London that has been campaigning for years for Britain to leave the European Union.

Ms Cox died after being shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency advice surgery.

The mum-of-two children aged three and five was attacked by a man reportedly shouting "Britain first" yesterday in Birstall, West Yorkshire.

Eyewitnesses said he kicked and stabbed her and then shot her several times, the final shot being aimed at her head.

The alleged gunman has been named locally as Tommy Mair (52), who neighbours described as "a loner".

He was arrested near the scene soon after the attack.

Mair was named as a supporter in an online publication of the Springbok Club, an organisation that has defended the former white supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa.

The organisation Britain First, which was founded by former members of the British National Party, denied Mair was associated with it and said they condemned the killing.

In May 2010, Mair was in the news when, in an interview with the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, he talked about getting work at a local park after being referred to a clinic for adults with mental health problems.

Ms Cox's husband, Brendan, said: "Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love.

"I and Jo's friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo.

"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 children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the country would be "in shock at the horrific murder" of the MP, who was a "much-loved colleague".

The killing shocked Westminster and led to the suspension of campaigning in the EU referendum.

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."

Eyewitness Clarke Rothwell, who runs a cafe near the murder scene, described the attack. "He was shouting 'put Britain first'," he said. "He said it before he shot her and after he shot her."

Another witness, Hichem Ben Abdallah, said the alleged attacker was "kicking her as she was lying on the floor" and that a bystander intervened before Ms Cox was shot.

The 56-year-old added: "There was a guy who was being very brave and another guy with a white baseball cap who he was trying to control, and the man in the baseball cap suddenly pulled a gun from his bag.

"He was fighting with her and wrestling with her and then the gun went off twice."

Mair's house was sealed off by police as forensic officers worked in the garden.

Neighbours said he had lived there for more than 30 years - on his own for the last two decades since the deaths of his mother and grandmother.

One neighbour, David Pickles, said: "I still can't believe it. He's the last guy I would have thought of."

Another neighbour, who did not want to be named, added: "He was a bit of a loner. It has come as a shock to everybody."

Ms Cox was elected to the seat of Batley and Spen at the last general election in 2015.

She was a Remain supporter in the EU referendum.

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