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Colleague Remembers British MP Jo Cox: 'It's That Hatred That We Will Continue To Fight'


The man charged with killing Jo Cox, a member of Parliament in Britain, appeared in court today. Thomas Mair gave his name as, quote, "death to traitors, freedom for Britain." Jo Cox was a member of Parliament from the Labour Party, and she died on Thursday after being shot and stabbed on a street in northern England. We reached her colleague, a Labour MP, Mary Creagh, on a train yesterday, and she shared memories of her friend.

MARY CREAGH: She was wonderful, warm, compassionate human being who loved life, loved her family and loved working for the people of (unintelligible) and making the world a better place for (unintelligible) and a better place for the (unintelligible) people of Syria and a better place for the refugee children who are now scattered across Europe with no home to go to.

SIMON: Please help us understand that interest in her life, which I gather was animating. She worked at Oxfam. She strongly believed in humanitarian intervention in Syria. Help us understand her dedication to those causes if you could.

CREAGH: Well, Jo, when she came to Parliament in May 2015, she immediately began work on the Syria refugee crisis. She set up a cross party group of MPs to work on the issue. She was one of the first people to call for humanitarian aid drops to the besieged towns and cities of Syria. And she was instrumental in changing U.K. government policy so that the conservative government has now agreed to take 3,000 unaccompanied Syrian refugee children who are in desperate need of our help, solidarity and support. And so in that short one year, one month in Parliament, she made a tremendous difference. People had already marked her down as a rising star in the Labour Party.

SIMON: And we should remember, she had a young family, I gather.

SIMON: Jo had two young children, age 3 and 5, and she was talking about how one of them had chickenpox only the other day. She (inaudible) houseboat with her husband Brendan and the children. And it is so hard for people to come to terms with this senseless death. And we are shocked to the core.

SIMON: Campaigning has been temporarily suspended in the referendum that's coming up in just a few days about whether Britain should stay in the European Union or leave. Could you tell us something about the political atmosphere in Britain as you see it now as this important referendum approaches?

CREAGH: Personally, I feel that all the excitement and anticipation has gone out of campaigning in this referendum. Jo's husband, Brendan, urged us all to fight against the hatred that killed Jo. And he made the point that hate doesn't have a creed, race or religion. It is poisonous, and it is that poison that has killed Jo and is that hatred that we will continue to fight every day for the rest of our political lives.

And I think whatever the result on Friday, there will be no rejoicing if it is a vote to remain. Nothing is worth one hair of Jo Cox's head, and for her to lose her life in the middle of this campaign is just a senseless tragedy that has really shaken British politics and the values of our democracy, which we hold so dear, it's shaken those values to their core.

SIMON: Mary Creagh is a member of Parliament for Wakefield. Thank you so much for being with us.

CREAGH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.