Jo Cox 'died for her views', her widower tells BBC

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Brendan Cox: "She had very strong political views and I believe she was killed because of those views"

Jo Cox was killed because of her strong political views, her widower Brendan has told the BBC.

The late Labour MP would want people to stand up for her beliefs "in death as much as she did in life", he told political editor Laura Kuenssberg.

He said his late wife, who would have been 42 tomorrow, was concerned about "coarsening" of the referendum debate.

He also spoke about the need to support their children to "make sure something good comes out of this".

The MP for Batley and Spen died after she was shot and stabbed in Birstall, West Yorkshire, on Thursday.

A fund set up in her memory has raised £1m in donations while a series of events will be held around the country on Wednesday to mark what would have been her 42nd birthday.

'Fears and hatred'

Mr Cox said that his late wife - who was a passionate campaigner for human rights, international development and the plight of refugees during her parliamentary career and in her previous role working for Oxfam - "died for her views".

"She was a politician and she had very strong political views and I believe was she killed because of those views," he said. "I think she died because of them and she would want to stand up for those in death as much as she did in life.

"I don't want people ascribing views to her that she didn't have but I certainly want to continue to fight for the legacy and for the politics and the views she espoused.

Image source, Brendan Cox
Image caption,
Labour MP Jo Cox died after the attack in her West Yorkshire constituency
Image source, Getty Images
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Mr Cox said his priority was caring for the couple's two children

"Because they were what she was, she died for them and we definitely want to make sure that we continue to fight for them."

The Labour MP, who was a Remain supporter, was concerned about the conduct of the referendum on EU membership and the direction of political debate in general, he said.

"She completely respected that people could disagree for very good reason. But more about the tone of whipping up fears and whipping up hatred potentially.

"I think the EU referendum has created a more heightened environment for it but actually it also pre-existed that. It's something that's happened over the last few years I think and again not just in the UK but globally."

He also spoke about the grief of their two children, who were present in the Commons when MPs paid tribute to their mother on Monday, and how important public support had been.

"The two things that I've been very focused on is how do we support and protect the children and how do we make sure that something good comes out of this.

"And what the public support and outpouring of love around this does, is it also helps the children see that what they're feeling and other people are feeling, that the grief that they feel isn't abnormal, that they feel it more acutely and more painfully and more personally but that actually their mother was someone who was loved by lots of people and that therefore, it's ok to be upset and it's okay for them to cry and to be sad about it."

'Better place'

And Mr Cox said he would remember his wife as somebody who had "energy, a joy, about living life" and who would have no regrets about her life.

"She cherished every moment... I remember so much about her but most of all I will remember that she met the world with love and both love for her children, love in her family and also love for people she didn't know.

"She just approached things with a spirit, she wasn't perfect at all you know, but she just wanted to make the world a better place, to contribute, and we love her very much."

Mr Cox ruled out seeking the Labour nomination for her Batley and Spen constituency as a way of honouring his late wife's memory, saying his overriding priority was caring for his family and helping them through the ordeal.

He said he hoped she would be replaced by a woman, saying it would be "a lovely symbolism" if they became Labour's 100th female MP.