Lawmakers remember slain MP
Britain's normally raucous House of Commons was given over to tears, roses and warm tributes yesterday as legislators urged an end to angry and divisive politics in honour of their slain colleague Jo Cox, who was killed last week.
Referendum campaigning has resumed with a more sombre tone after being suspended for three days following the death of Cox, who was shot and stabbed to death outside a library in her northern England constituency last Thursday.
Police have charged a suspect, Thomas Mair, who gave his name during a weekend court appearance as "death to traitors, freedom for Britain." He appeared in court for a brief hearing by video link yesterday from prison, and his lawyer did not seek bail.
Mair's motivation is unknown, but the slaying raised concerns about the often vitriolic tone of the referendum campaign, which has exposed bitter divisions about immigration and national identity in Britain.
Lawmakers called back from recess for a special session in Cox's memory urged what Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called "a kinder, gentler politics" in the wake of her death.
"We all have a responsibility, in this House and beyond, not to whip up hatred and sow division," Corbyn said.
Cox's friends and colleagues spoke of her warmth, energy and principles, as her husband Brendan and children ages five and three watched from the public gallery.
Several legislators choked back tears as they spoke, and many recalled Cox's words in her first Commons speech: "We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us."
"An attack like this strikes not only at an individual but at our freedom," said Speaker John Bercow. "That is why we assemble here, both to honour Jo and to redouble our dedication to democracy."
While "remain" campaigners have focused on the economic uncertainty surrounding a British exit from the bloc - popularly known as "Brexit" - the "leave" side has stressed the emotive issue of immigration. Campaigners argue that Britain cannot control migration while it remains in the EU, which is built on the principle of free movement between member states.
Public opinion polls published since Cox's death suggested a slight shift toward remaining in the EU, but the two sides remained essentially even and it was unclear what was behind any movement, said respected pollster Ben Page of Ipsos MORI.