England

Jo Cox death: Community comes together to mourn MP

Yvette Cooper Image copyright iStock
Image caption The service was attended by many MPs

Hundreds of people packed into a church for an emotional vigil for Labour MP Jo Cox after she was shot and killed in an attack in her constituency.

Local people were joined by MPs for a service at St Peter's Church in Birstall, near Leeds.

Church bells rang 42 times for the mother-of-two, who would have celebrated her birthday next week.

The Bishop of Leeds, the Right Reverend Nick Baines, said the MP had "lit a candle to dispel the darkness".

He added: "She grew up in this community, she's served this community, she loved this community and she died in this community.

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Media captionHundreds of people attended the vigil in Birstall to remember Jo Cox MP

"We must celebrate the way she lived rather than mourn the way she died."

Mrs Cox was attacked after leaving a constituency surgery in the town's library. A 53-year-old man has been arrested.

Many of the MP's friends and colleagues consoled each other as the service ended.

One woman attending the ceremony described the killing as "absolutely horrendous".

"I met her several times. She was a lovely lady," she said.

"She helped me. She was a wonderful lady and she will be sadly missed by many."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption People of all faiths attended the vigil at St Peter's Church in Birstall
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Church bells rang 42 times - the age Mrs Cox would have turned next week
Image copyright PA
Image caption Yvette Cooper (L) was joined by fellow Labour MPs at the service

Throughout the day floral tributes were laid by a statue of locally-born scientist Joseph Priestly, which stands just yards from the scene of the attack.

One person laying a bouquet was David Waite, who knew Ms Cox. He described her as "a remarkable person".

"It's so wrong what has happened," he said.

"She stuck to her morals and her principles completely. So even things that weren't particularly glamorous or popular she stuck to it and did what she believed in, what she thought was right.

"She had been to Gaza, it's ironic isn't it that she had been over and put herself at risk and came back without any trouble and got killed on the streets of her home town."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Rt Revd Nick Baines said the MP "loved this community"

Labour councillor Steve Hall said he got to know the MP while working on her election campaign in 2015.

"Her enthusiasm for everything was absolutely superb, she was bubbly and bouncy," he said.

"She was such a humanitarian, she just wanted to get involved and help.

"It absolutely knocks you for six."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Flowers have been laid by a statue near the spot where Ms Cox was attacked

Earlier in the day in the neighbouring town of Batley, a book of condolence was opened at the parish church, just yards from her constituency office.

One man who signed the book said he was shocked when he heard the news.

"It's a close community," he said.

"There's a lot of people here who had a lot of respect for Jo and she brought people together.

"Her warmth within the community, her warmth as a person came through and I think it's shown today how people want to come out and support and show their respect and show their love as well."

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