First Orlando, and now this. This has been a terrible week filled with violence and gun deaths.
A British Member of Parliament, Jo Cox was brutally murdered in Northern England earlier this week.
Here are the facts:
- An MP, Jo Cox was shot and stabbed in front of a Yorkshire library
- 52 year old Thomas Mair was arrested. No other suspects are believed to be involved.
- Thomas Mair has been linked to the neo-Nazi National Alliance, and purchased literature on making weapons.
- Bystanders claim to have heard the attacker shout “Put Britain First”, however this remains unconfirmed
- Bystanders also claimed that the gun looked homemade. Again, this is unconfirmed.
Who Was Jo Cox?
She was a 41 year old, former aid worker who was strongly advocating for the Syrian refugees. She was a very loved public figure who actively and openly campaigned to remain in the EU. She spent over 10 years working for Oxfam, the aid agency that is world famous for reducing unnecessary deaths of women and children during childbirth. She was elected to Parliament in 2015, for the very area where she was murdered.
Her husband, Brendan said in a statement “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.”
What Was the Motive?
At this time, the motive is still uncertain. The attacker, 52 year old Thomas Mair was believed to have connections to the far-right political movements such as the neo-Nazi National Alliance, and bystanders claim to have heard him say “Put Britain First” repeatedly while he was stabbing the MP. Britain First is the name of a political movement who are strongly anti-immigration, and obviously support leaving the EU. The group has denied any involvement, and the leader of the group, Paul Golding, said “We hope that this person who carried it out is strung up by the neck on the nearest lamp post. That’s the way we view justice.”
What Does This Mean for the Referendum?
Campaigning has been put on hold for the moment, as it would be extremely disrespectful to be campaigning now. German PM Angela Merkel has urged that extreme language not be used in the wake of this tragedy. “Exaggerations, and radicalisation of part of the language, do not help foster an atmosphere of respect. We know how important it is to draw limits: in choice of speech, in choice of argument, and also in choice of disparaging argument,” Ms Merkel said.
She has a point. it would be too easy to let this campaign devolve into a hate based referendum, with pro-EU campaigners saying that the other side are murderers, and the Leave campaign stress the violence that immigrants could bring; it would make the British referendum to look more like a US election than a British vote. We will see what happens next week, but now things have changed. Someone has now given their life for immigration and Britain to remain in the EU.