Campaigning for Britain’s EU referendum scheduled for next week has been suspended for a second day as the nation remains in shock from the murder of Jo Cox, a Member of Parliament (MP) who was pro-Europe. Cox, a 41-year-old former aid worker and pro-EU campaigner known for her advocacy on behalf of Syrian refugees, was killed on Thursday outside a library where she regularly met constituents in Birstall in northern England.
Cox, a Labour Party MP, had been repeatedly shot and stabbed, witnesses told local media. Following the attack, both sides in Britain’s June 23 EU referendum on staying or leaving the bloc said they were suspending their campaigns. British Prime Minister David Cameron also pulled out of a planned rally in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory located on the southern end of Spain in Mediterranean Sea.
The Stronger in Europe camp, which campaigns in favor of the UK’s continued membership of the EU, said it was “suspending all campaigning” for Thursday and Friday, while a spokesperson for the rival Vote Leave group, an organization that campaigns for Britain to leave the EU, said their “battle bus” was returning to headquarters.
Her attacker is reported to have shouted “put Britain first” at least twice. A 52-year-old man, named locally as Tommy Mair, has been arrested. According to British media, Mair, may have had extreme right-wing leanings. “Britain First” is the name of a far-right anti-immigration group. Police said an investigation was under way to determine the motive of the murder, the first killing of an MP since Ian Gow was killed by a car bomb planted by the Irish Republican Army in 1990.
Earlier on Thursday, dozens gathered outside the Parliament in a vigil to remember Cox, including Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was flanked by tearful party colleagues. “What’s happened is beyond appalling. We are here in silent memory of her loss,” said Corbyn. “She was a fearless campaigner, and a voice for the voiceless. We feel shaken,” said Fatima Ibrahim, 23, an activist with the Avaaz civic organisation.