Leeds & West Yorkshire

Jo Cox murder: Birstall 'closes sad chapter' as killer jailed

Jo Cox Image copyright Ross Parry

The conviction of MP Jo Cox's murderer was met sombrely in her constituency, where people said it would "close a sad chapter" for the area.

The 41-year-old was shot and stabbed to death by Thomas Mair outside her surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire, on 16 June.

Residents spoke on Wednesday of a hard working, popular politician whose death had cast a long shadow.

Stephen Hughes, 59, said her impact on the village would not be forgotten.

"Year after year we will have a memorial service in June to remember her. People will bring flowers, the children will be here from the schools.

"She will be remembered as a politician who put in a lot of hard work. Her heart and soul went into things, she also kept herself local despite having to go down to London."

Image caption Stephen Hughes said Mrs Cox "put her heart and soul" into her work

Mrs Cox had only represented the ethnically diverse constituency of Batley and Spen for a year before she was killed.

In her maiden speech to Parliament, she said: "While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we have far more in common with each other than things that divide us."

It is for this philosophy of inclusivity that those who worked closely with her say she will be remembered.

Iqbal Bhana, who helped the Labour politician during her election campaign, said: "Everyone still talks about losing someone committed and dedicated to changing people's lives.

"Her legacy is quite substantial, her 'More in Common' philosophy has become international currency which is championed around the world.

"This very simple message resonated, especially at times like these, with the current political climate. It has become much more relevant since her death."

Image copyright Shabir Pandor
Image caption Shabir Pandor said rather than dividing the community people had pulled together after Jo Cox's death

Tributes to the well-liked mother-of-two poured in following her brutal murder just yards from the market place.

Resident Valerie Rookledge, said: "I was away when it happened, but I came back and all the flowers were here in the square.

"It's such a quiet village, so it was a great shock. She really was trying to gather the different communities together here, and she was being successful."

Batley councillor and friend of Mrs Cox, Shabir Pandor, said the community had been united in its grief.

"The whole community was completely devastated and in total shock, but it pulled people together. People do have to move on, but her legacy will continue.

"Her work doesn't just resonate in Batley, it resonates nationally and internationally.

"It takes a unique set of skills to be a good politician, but she didn't have to try too hard - she was as natural as the sun rising and setting."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Joseph Priestley statue in Birstall became a focal point for tributes following the murder of Jo Cox

Revd Paul Knight, vicar of St Peter's Church in Birstall, said: "Despite being a person of no faith, she worked tirelessly to make lives better within the faith communities.

"We want to work to make sure her legacy continues and to make lives better - and it's already happening.

"We're planning on holding a carol service this year with a focus on 'remembering'.

"She was a 21st Century Good Samaritan."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Jo Cox taking part in Lords v House of Commons tug of war fundraising event for Macmillan Cancer Support

Mr Bhana said Mair's conviction would "close a sad chapter" in the lives of those affected by Mrs Cox's death.

On the streets of Birstall, Craig Garbutt, 47, echoed his thoughts.

"I see the verdict as a good result, it's now a way of moving forward.

"An event like this is devastating, but I think it leaves the community in a stronger, tighter place."

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Friends and colleagues said the MP worked tirelessly for others

More on this story