MPs advised to raise security following Jo Cox killing

Both Brexit campaigns continue hiatus as vigils for Labour MP take place all over UK

The two sides in Britain's EU referendum extended their pause in campaigning until Sunday as Parliament was recalled for Monday to pay tribute to murdered Labour MP Jo Cox.

As police continued to keep a 52-year-old suspect in detention and investigated the role of right-wing extremism in the murder, a man was charged over a death threat to Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw.

MPs were given advice by police about improving their personal security in the wake of the murder.

Mr Bradshaw, who is gay, said his staff had borne the brunt of homophobic and racist abuse against him.


‘Sense of vulnerability’

“We all must live with a constant sense of vulnerability,” he said. “I do think we should use this as a moment to reflect as a nation on the political culture we create.

“And I think politicians and commentators should think more carefully about what they say and do, and the influence it has on people and what can open us up to hatred and violence.”

The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Greens have said they will not put up candidates in the byelection in Batley and Spen caused by Ms Cox's death.

The last time an MP was assassinated, when the IRA murdered Conservative Ian Gow in 1990, all parties contested the byelection and a Liberal Democrats won the seat.

There were vigils for Ms Cox all over Britain on Friday night, including one in London's Parliament Square.

John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, paid a personal tribute to Ms Cox, in which he said that "evil cannot be allowed and will not be allowed to triumph over good".

‘Dulled or dimmed’

“We just have to underline our determination as politicians across the spectrum that free speech and the right of people to go about their business and the pursuit of principle will continue, and it will not be dulled or dimmed or cowed in any way by people who think that violence and the spirit of hatred can be allowed to triumph,” Mr Bercow said.

“That has not happened, as I think we are demonstrating today, and it will not happen – not now and not at any time.”

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband said the murder ought to provoke a rethink of how politicians are viewed in society. He said there was too much hatred and not enough respect on all sides of the political debate.

“Politicians right across the House of Commons – the vast majority are in it for the right reasons,” Mr Miliband said.

“For everyone around politics – press, politicians, perhaps members of the public too – yesterday was just this moment when you thought: ‘Gosh, a lot of the way we conduct ourselves looks so small in comparison to this terrible event’.”

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times