U.K. Brexit Campaigns Suspended for Third Day After MP’s Killing

  • House of Commons to sit Monday for tributes to Labour lawmaker
  • Cameron, Corbyn make rare joint appearance at site of attack

Locals offer flowers and tributes to Jo Cox MP in Market Square, Birstall on June 18.

Photographer: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The campaign on U.K. membership in the European Union was suspended for a third day as lawmakers prepared for a Parliament session on Monday to pay tribute to murdered Labour Party lawmaker Jo Cox and political leaders urged unity after weeks of acrimonious campaigning.

Broadcast appearances are to resume Sunday, with Prime Minister David Cameron on a special edition of BBC Television’s “Question Time” show in the evening. Pro-Brexit justice secretary Michael Gove and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn appear on the BBC’s “Andrew Marr” program in the morning.

Thomas Mair, 52, who lives in Cox’s northern England electoral district, was charged early Saturday in the death of Cox, and later appeared in a London courtroom, according to Press Association.

On Saturday morning, BMG Research published a telephone poll showing “Remain” was ahead of “Leave” by 46 percent to 43 percent, with 11 percent undecided or preferring not to say. The survey was conducted before Cox’s murder and was originally scheduled to be released on Friday.

Cameron and Corbyn made a rare joint appearance Friday at the site of the attack to praise Cox and call for restraint in the referendum debate. Campaigning for the June 23 vote was suspended after her death was announced.

Cameron and Corbyn in Birstall on June 17.

Photographer: Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

“We should value and see as precious the democracy we have on these islands where 65 million of us live together, work together and get on together,” Cameron said after laying flowers with Corbyn at the spot where Cox was shot. “It is all underpinned by tolerance, so where we see hatred, where we find division, where we see intolerance, we must drive it out of public life, out of our communities.”

Rancorous Debate

Cox, 41, was killed in the town of Birstall, northern England, in the early afternoon on Thursday. She was a fervent supporter of Britain remaining in the EU, as well as a champion of the poor and of Syrian refugees. Her murder followed an increasingly rancorous debate over the referendum, with some opinion polls putting the “Leave” campaign ahead by several percentage points.

Corbyn said parliament will pay tribute to “an exceptional, wonderful, very talented woman, taken from us in her early 40s when she had so much to give.” The legislature has been in pre-referendum recess since Wednesday.

“It’s an attack on democracy,” Corbyn said. “It’s the well of hatred that killed her.”

Special Election

The appearance by Corbyn alongside Cameron was a show of unity by two men who have yet to campaign together despite both supporting a “Remain” vote. Cameron’s Conservatives also said they won’t contest Cox’s seat in the special election to replace her.

Reactions to Cox’s death spread beyond U.K. borders, with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton among those commenting. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the killing underlined the need to engage with others of differing political views with respect, urging an end to the “total exaggeration and radicalization” of political debate.

Also on Saturday, the IMF released a report saying the U.K. “would likely be worse off economically in the long run” if it decides to exit the European Union. Publication of the 64-page document had also been delayed by a day.

“Membership in the EU has made the U.K. a richer economy, but it has also made it a more diverse, more exciting, and more creative country,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Friday in Vienna. “I have always admired the United Kingdom for its openness to other nationalities and foreign cultures, and I find it hard to believe that attitudes have changed in such a short time.”


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