West Yorkshire MP was arriving at her local office when she was attacked by a man who wrestled her to the ground attacker said to have shouted ‘Britain First’ as he kicked mother-of-two before shooting and repeatedly stabbing her53-year-old man, named locally as gardener Tommy Mair, was arrested at scene after armed police flooded the areaPolitical leaders have now sent their thoughts to 41-year-old victim’s husband Brendan and their two young childrenHer husband Brendan posted moving picture of his wife and urged people to ‘fight against the hatred that killed her’
A Labour MP has died after she was shot three times and repeatedly stabbed in a shocking attack as she arrived at her constituency surgery.
Mother-of-two Jo Cox, 41, was airlifted to hospital after a gunman opened fire on her in Birstall near Leeds.
Witnesses said the man was at the office before she arrived and shot her three times, once in the head, before stabbing her with ‘a foot-long knife’ as she lay on the ground.
Her husband Brendan tweeted a photo of his wife two hours after she died from catastrophic injuries. He later urged people to ‘fight against the hatred that killed her.’
In a statement, he 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 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 poisionous.
‘Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.’
A 53-year-old – named locally as ‘loner’ Tommy Mair – has been arrested by police and his house is currently being searched by forensic experts.
David Pickles, a neighbour of Mr Mair, said: ‘He’s just quiet. He kept himself to himself. He lived by himself. He’s been on his own for about 20 years. I’ve never seen a lot of people visiting or anything like that.’
Witness Clarke Rothwell, who runs a cafe near where the attack took place, told the BBC he believed the MP had been shot and stabbed multiple times.
He said: ‘He [the attacker] was stabbing her as well, he was stabbing her with his knife.’
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Another witness, Sam Watson, added: ‘The man walked away calmly and nobody wanted to approach him.’
Hichem Ben Abdallah, 56, was in the cafe next door to the library when he heard screaming and went outside.
He said: ‘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 and then she fell between two cars and I came and saw her bleeding on the floor.’
It was earlier thought Ms Cox had intervened in a fight between two men but it is now believed that her attacker was lying in wait. One witness said he believed the attacker was waiting for Ms Cox outside the library where she was holding the surgery.
Eyewitnesses claim the gunman shouted ‘Britain first’ as he carried out the horrific attack on Ms Cox.
However, Britain First – a British nationalist political party which campaigns against immigration, multiculturalism and Islam – has now distanced itself from the attack and denied any connection.
The group’s leader, former British National Party councillor Paul Golding, claimed the attacker could have shouted ‘It’s time to put Britain first’, as he dismissed eyewitness accounts as ‘hearsay’.
The leader of the far right party said: ‘She has been out campaigning to keep Britain in the EU and there are people in the area that are against it.
‘I don’t think it was one of our supporters. We stand in elections and organise protests – we don’t encourage this kind of nonsense.
‘She has a young family – an attack on a mum like that is disgraceful.
‘Whether you agree with Labour, to have had that happen to her on the streets is shocking and an indictment of the state of this country.’
In a video message released following the announcement that Ms Cox had died from her injuries, he added: ‘This is a terrible day for our democracy, for our parliamentary system. Our MPs are the representatives of the people and they have been for over 400 years now.
‘So this is a very dark day for our country and for our democracy. We do not know what was said. At the moment, it is pure hearsay.
‘It’s an attack on a mother, it’s an attack on our parliamentary system. It’s just a downright act of criminality on the streets of Yorkshire. That’s what we believe, that’s what we think.
‘I hope the person who carried out this heinous crime gets what he deserves.’
Britain First also issued a statement denying any involvement, suggesting that the phrase ‘could have been a slogan rather than a reference to our party’.
A spokesman said: ‘Britain First obviously is not involved and would never encourage behaviour of this sort.’
Britain First, which was founded in 2011 by Jim Downson, an anti-abortion campaigner linked to Ulster loyalist militants, is in favour of preserving what it deems ‘traditional British culture’.
The movement first attracted attention by protesting outside homes of alleged Islamists. It has also been known to carry out ‘Christian patrols’ and ‘invasions’ of British mosques and is known for online activism.
It has contested elections to the House of Commons, the European Parliament and the mayoralty of London, but has not held any elected posts.
The group is also against immigration – an issue which Ms Cox has spoken positively about. It has raised suspicions that her attacker was opposing her political views when he fatally shot her.
The man arrested in connection with the death of Jo Cox has been named locally as Thomas Mair, described as a ‘loner’ who ‘kept himself to himself’.
The 52-year-old is understood to have lived in the same semi-detached house in Birstall for some 40 years, living with his grandmother until she died 20 years ago.
Since then he has lived on his own and has rarely had visitors, neighbours said.
The house is one of a number of addresses being searched by police as part of the investigation into Ms Cox’s death.
Known to his neighbours as ‘Tommy’, Mair reportedly never had any full-time employment, and didn’t drive a car.
On occasion he would carry out small gardening chores for others.
One neighbour, David Pickles, said: ‘He’s lived there longer than me and I’ve lived here since 1975.
‘I still can’t believe it. He’s the last guy I would have thought of.
‘He’s just quiet. He kept himself to himself. He lived by himself. He’s been on his own for about 20 years.
‘I’ve never seen a lot of people visiting or anything like that, but he likes gardening.
‘He did a lot of people’s gardens round here. But he did it quietly.’
Mr Pickles said he did not know of any connection between his neighbour and Ms Cox.
Mair is also said to have often been seen wearing a baseball cap.
Neighbour Kathleen Cooke, 62, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘He is very helpful and he helps local people with their gardens.
‘There is one neighbour who is a bit frail and he keeps her garden tidy. He has helped me cut my hedge a couple of times.’
After around 15 minutes, the shop owner said emergency services arrived and tended to her with a drip.
Mr Abdallah said the weapon looked handmade and that the man who had been wrestling with the assailant continued to do so even after he saw the gun. He said: ‘The man stepped back with the gun and fired it and then he fired a second shot, as he was firing he was looking down at the ground.’
Aamir Tahir, of The Dry Clean Centre, said the gunman was heard shouting ‘Britain first’.
He said: ‘The lady I work with heard two loud bangs. I wish I was there because I would have tried to stop him.
‘Apparently the guy who did it shouted ‘Britain first’ and if I had been there I would have tackled him.’
Britain First is the name of a far-Right group which said it was ‘not involved and would never encourage behaviour of this sort’. Daniel Blyth, a company director from Birstall, told the paper he saw seven police cars ‘racing up’ the road to the scene
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘Jo was universally liked at Westminster, not just by her Labour colleagues, but across Parliament.
‘In the coming days, there will be questions to answer about how and why she died. But for now all our thoughts are with Jo’s husband Brendan and their two young children. They will grow up without their mum, but can be immensely proud of what she did, what she achieved and what she stood for.
David Cameron added: ‘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.’
Campaigning for the EU referendum by Britain Stronger in Europe and Vote Leave has been suspended for the day after the attack.
Commenting on the attack, temporary Chief Constable Dee Collins said: ‘Just before 1pm today Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen, was attacked in Market Street, Birstall. I am now very sad to have to report that she has died as a result of her injuries.
‘Before going into further detail, I would like to express our deepest sympathies to her family and friends at this tragic time.
‘Jo was attacked by a man who inflicted serious and sadly ultimately fatal injuries.
‘There was a subsequently an attack on a 77 year old man nearby who has sustained injuries that are non-life threatening. Shortly afterwards a man was arrested nearby by police officers. Weapons, including a firearm, have also been recovered.
‘At 1.48pm Jo was pronounced dead by a doctor working with a paramedic crew who was treating her injuries. This is a very serious investigation with a large number of witnesses that are being spoken to by police at this time. There is a large and significant crime scene. There is a large police presence in the area. A full investigation is underway to establish the motive of this attack.
‘There are specially trained officers with Jo’s immediate family who are fully aware of what has taken place. And we would ask the media to respect their privacy at this difficult time. Additional officers are working with the local community this evening, in order to provide support and reassurance to our communities.
‘Clearly as our inquiry is at a very early stage, and we have an individual under arrest, we are not in the position to discuss any motive at this time. We are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.’
She added: ‘We are attending a number of scenes as part of this investigation and we will be looking very closely at what evidence we may or may not be able to recover.’
Jo Cox was among the rising stars in Parliament before she was shot dead on the streets of her Yorkshire constituency today.
She used her short time as an MP to continue her career-long dedication to helping the plight of refugees and made a name for herself by campaigning on Syria-related issues.
The married mother of two young children was about to celebrate her 42nd birthday next week and yesterday her young family enjoyed a day out at Westminster, pictured in a boat on the Thames during an EU campaign event.
Mrs Cox was a slight figure but had a powerful voice and used it repeatedly in Parliament over the last year to make the passionate case for taking in more Syrian refugee children.
And it was a fitting outcome that the former aide worker, who had put herself in danger throughout war zones and the developing world, played a central role in persuading the Government to change its mind and agree to accept 3,000 Syrian children into Britain.
In a memorable speech in April, she told MPs: ‘Those children have been exposed to things no child should ever witness, and I know I would risk life and limb to get my two precious babies out of that hellhole.’
Mrs Cox was born and raised in the West Yorkshire town of Heckmondwike and was elected as the local Batley and Spen MP at the General Election in May 2015, beating the Tories with a 6,051 majority.
Born to Jean, a school secretary, and father, Gordon, who worked in a local toothpaste and hairspray factory, Cox was educated at Heckmondwike Grammar School and became the first person from her family to graduate from university.
But before she arrived in Cambridge, she spent the summer working at her dad’s factory, packing toothpaste while all her peers enjoyed a gap year.
She read social and political studies at Cambridge University, which is where her passion of politics was born.
‘I just felt like I wasn’t quite up to speed with everyone else,’ she explained. ‘I was a happy go lucky 18-year-old from Yorkshire going out in Leeds having a good time.
‘A lovely life and a lovely family. Then I was thrown into a Cambridge environment where I just didn’t get it. It shook me. All my norms and everything I was used to didn’t feel like they were right anymore.’
She went on to work as an adviser for the Labour MP Joan Walley and Baroness, before embarking on a successful career as an aide worker.
She was married to Brendan Cox, a former adviser to Gordon Brown who has also been chief executive of Save the children.
The 41-year-old also worked closely with Mr Brown’s wife Sarah on efforts to prevent mothers and babies dying needlessly in pregnancy.
Since entering the Commons, she has made a name for herself by campaigning on Syria issues, including calling for the UK to enforce a no-fly zone.
In 2015 she abstained in a vote on whether we should join airstrikes.
Mrs Cox nominated Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader, but is regarded as a moderate within the party and is very popular among her fellow MPs.