British prime minister David Cameron has issued a plea for tolerance in British political life as he joined Jeremy Corbyn and John Bercow to pay tribute to Labour MP Jo Cox in the West Yorkshire town where she was killed.
Parliament is to be recalled on Monday to allow MPs to pay tribute to the mother of two, who the prime minister described as one of the “most passionate and brilliant campaigners” in the House of Commons.
Ms Cox, who entered parliament as MP for Batley and Spen in last year’s general election, was shot and stabbed to death in the street outside her constituency advice surgery in Birstall on Thursday.
The prime minister, Labour leader and commons speaker bowed their heads as they laid bouquets at the foot of Birstall’s Joseph Priestley memorial, adding to the impromptu shrine of flowers and messages.
Across the market square from where they stood, police tape still cordoned off the spot where the 41-year-old former aid worker was killed in what Mr Corbyn described as “an attack on democracy”.
Cameron said the whole nation was “rightly shocked” at Ms Cox’s death, and called for people to “value, and see as precious, the democracy we have on these islands”. Politics was about public service and MPs wanted to “make the world a better place”, he said.
And Mr Cameron added: “Where we see hatred, where we find division, where we see intolerance, we must drive it out of our politics and out of our public life and out of our communities.
“If we truly want to honour Jo, then what we should do is recognise that her values — service, community, tolerance — the values she lived by and worked by, those are the values that we need to redouble in our national life in the months and years to come,” he said.
Campaigning in the EU referendum remained suspended following Ms Cox’s death, with Stronger In announcing that they will extend the pause in national campaign events to today. Unite union leader Len McCluskey cancelled a planned EU speech on Monday in a mark of respect to the murdered MP.
Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have announced that they will not contest the by-election resulting from her death, giving Labour a probable free run at retaining the Westminster seat which she won with a majority of 6,057 last year.
The man held over the attack on Labour MP Jo Cox is “not a violent man and is not that political”, his brother has said.
Tommy Mair, 52, was detained by police near his home in Birstall, West Yorkshire.
Officers were seen searching his home not far from the scene of the attack, during which the alleged assailant reportedly shouted “Britain first”.
Scott Mair, 50, told reporters his brother had a “history of mental illness, but he has had help”.
And he told The Sun: “We are struggling to believe what has happened. My brother is not a violent man and is not that political.
“We don’t even know who he votes for. I am visibly shaken at this news. I am so sorry for the MP and her family.”
A Thomas Mair, from Batley, was named in a 2006 edition of the Springbok Cyber Newsletter, which is produced by the hard-right Springbok Club, an organisation which has called for a return to apartheid-style government in South Africa.
The online article said he was “one of the earliest subscribers and supporters of ‘SA Patriot’” and was hoping to trace his whereabouts.
And a US civil rights group the Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Alabama, claimed it had obtained records showing a Thomas Mair had links with the neo-Nazi organisation National Alliance dating back to 1999.
MP’s last words: My pain is too much
The last words of Jo Cox were “no, my pain is too much”, the father of the MP’s assistant has said.
Ghulam Maniyar said his daughter, Fazila Aswat, had tried to help the politician as she lay dying in her arms.
Ms Aswat had urged Ms Cox to get up but the pain was too much, according to the former Labour councillor. He told ITV News: “She said her (Jo’s) injury was so bad and she was in her arms. There was lots of blood.
“She said ‘Jo, get up’ but she (Jo) said ‘no, my pain is too much, Fazila’. And I think those were the last words Jo spoke.
“She could not do anything else. She tried to comfort her. Then the police came, the air ambulance took her to hospital. She was a witness and her clothes were full of blood.”
Mr Maniyar said Ms Cox “was like a daughter” to him and called him “uncle”. He added: “I think she’s a caring person, not just an MP but she liked to help every human being, every single person. She worried about Syrian people, she worried about ordinary people. Whenever you approached her, she’d come forward with a smile and try to help you.
“It’s shocking. Not just for my daughter but the whole community. We were living in harmony in the community, English community, Asian community.”
Mr Maniyar said his daughter had tried to stop the attack and is “in shock”.
“She tried to help her, she tried to hit (the attacker) with her handbag, but he tried to go at her,” he added.
“People came so he followed them and he came back again and shot her (Jo) again twice.
“My daughter... she is in shock because she’s been with her (Jo) for one year and working very closely with her.”