‘She cared about the most vulnerable’: tributes to human rights campaigner and MP Jo Cox

Gordon Brown, Sarah Brown

Jo Cox in a picture tweeted today by her husband Brendan


Tributes have been paid to Jo Cox, the tireless human rights campaigner and British Member of Parliament who died today after being attacked.

Jo – a 41-year-old mother of two young children – was an aid worker in developing countries who went on to become head of humanitarian campaigning at the charity Oxfam before she was elected as an MP.

She also campaigned against slavery, on behalf of refugees and for the rights of children and mothers.

She was a close adviser to Sarah Brown and they worked together on the Maternal Mortality Campaign with the White Ribbon Alliance.

Sarah – who is also President of Theirworld, the children’s charity behind A World at School – said: “I am heartbroken.

“Jo had a truly remarkable spirit and passion that shone through in her work with Oxfam and with me on our countless campaigns for women and children. 

“Jo cared about everybody but she reserved a special place in her heart for the most vulnerable and the poorest citizens of the world.

Jo’s Twitter profile picture showed her outside Parliament

“She was fearless, she was endlessly upbeat and she reached out to so many to join her cause. Her mission was to make the world a better place.

“But, above all else, Jo had utter devotion to her husband Brendan and their two children Cuillin and Lejla.”

Jo died after being shot and stabbed during the attack today in Birstall, West Yorkshire. She was holding her weekly “surgery”, where she met constituents to discuss issues.

Her husband Brendan Cox is a former senior executive with the charity Save The Children. After the tragedy, he tweeted a picture of his wife standing beside the River Thames in London.

In a statement, 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.

“Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.”

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “Our memories will be forever scarred by this moment. Our hearts will always be hurt at our country’s loss.

With a Macmillan Cancer Support team in her constituency just days ago Picture: Facebook/Jo4BatleyandSpen

“Jo Cox was the most vivacious, personable, dynamic and committed friend you could ever have met. Whenever you talked to her, the compassion in her eyes and the commitment in her soul shone through.

“Years of public service, advancing the causes she cared passionately about, should have been ahead of her.

“Sarah and I were privileged to work with Jo and her husband Brendan over many years and in her tireless efforts on behalf of poor and desolate children and mothers. 

“She went to some of the most dangerous places in the world. The last place she should have been in danger was in her home town.

“My and Sarah’s thoughts and prayers are with Brendan and their two young children Cuillin and Lejla this evening  They will have all our support in the difficult days ahead.

“For them and for those of us who were Jo’s friends, this is a devastating day. And it is a devastating blow to our democracy.”

A tribute was also paid by Gabrielle Giffords – the American congresswoman who survived being shot in the head while meeting constituents in Arizona in 2011.

Mark Goldring, the Chief Executive of Oxfam Great Britain, reflected the feelings of Jo’s former colleagues and the wider humanitarian community.

Kevin Watkins, who will become chief executive of Save The Children UK in September, tweeted: “Jo Cox represented everything good in humanity – generosity of spirit, kindness + courage. The world is diminished without her.”

Jo was elected as MP for Batley and Spen at last year’s General Election and chaired the all-Parliamentary group for Friends of Syria.

She worked with Oxfam as Head of the EU Office, Head of Policy and Advocacy and then Head of Humanitarian Campaigning. She became Director of the Maternal Mortality Campaign in 2009 before moving into her consultancy and advisory roles.

She was also the founder of UK Women and chair of the Labour Women’s Network.

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