BBC News

Jo Cox MP: In her own words

Related Topics
  • Jo Cox murder
media captionJo Cox said she wanted to approach being an MP with "a healthy chunk of cynicism and humour"

Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed in an attack on Thursday, made a big impression during her short time in Parliament. We look back at her time as an MP in her own words.

Maiden speech

Jo Cox made her first Commons speech, as a new MP, on Wednesday 3 June 2015 in a debate on regional growth and devolution. She also touched on the ethnic diversity in her Batley and Spen constituency.

She said: "Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration, be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir.

"While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us."

Watch the full speech here.


media captionSpeaking in the Commons debate on the Syrian city of Aleppo on 3 May, Jo Cox called on the US and UK governments to launch "a joint bold initiative" to protect civilians in Syria

As a former aid worker for Oxfam, who had worked in war zones, the situation in Syria was close to Jo Cox's heart and she called repeatedly for the government to do more to help the victims of the civil war.

Replying to an urgent question on the situation in Aleppo - 3 May 2016, House of Commons, she said: "While I am a huge fan of President Obama - indeed, I worked for him in North Carolina in 2008 - I believe that both he and the prime minister made the biggest misjudgment of their time in office when they put Syria on the "too difficult" pile and, instead of engaging fully, withdrew and put their faith in a policy of containment.

"This judgment, made by both leaders for different reasons, will, I believe, be judged harshly by history, and it has been nothing short of a foreign policy disaster…I do not believe that either President Obama or the prime minister tried to do harm in Syria but, as is said, sometimes all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

On 2 December, 2015, she wrote an article for the Huffington Post on why she had decided to abstain in the vote on air strikes in Syria, arguing that government needed a broader strategy in the region.

"I have long argued that Isis and Assad are not separate problems to be chosen between, but are action and reaction, cause and symptom, chicken and egg, impossible to untangle no matter how much we might like to.

"The brutality of Assad (who has killed seven times the number of civilians as Isis) has helped nurture Isis and been its main recruiting sergeant. As such they can only be addressed together, as part of a coherent strategy," she said.

Child refugees

On Monday, 25 April Jo Cox spoke in favour of an amendment by Labour's Lord Dubs, who came to the UK as a six-year-old fleeing the Nazis, calling for the UK to accept more child refugees.

She said: "Who can blame desperate parents for wanting to escape the horror that their families are experiencing? Children are being killed on their way to school, children as young as seven are being forcefully recruited to the frontline and one in three children have grown up knowing nothing but fear and war.

"Those children have been exposed to things no child should ever witness and I know I would risk life and limb to get my two precious babies out of that hellhole."

How she got into politics

"I never really grew up being political or Labour. It kind of came at Cambridge University, where it was just a realisation that where you were born mattered. That how you spoke mattered… who you knew mattered. I didn't really speak right or knew the right people.

"I spent the summers packing toothpaste at a factory working where my dad worked and everyone else had gone on a gap year!

"To be honest my experience at Cambridge really knocked me for about five years," she told The Yorkshire Post in December 2015.

EU referendum

"Immigration is a legitimate concern, but it's not a good reason to leave the EU. I very rarely agree with the prime minister but on this he's right: we are stronger, safer and better off in," she wrote in The Yorkshire Post on 10 June.


On Monday, 18 April Jo Cox MP led a Commons debate on the regional gap in education attainment.

"In Yorkshire and the Humber, children are now being left behind and no child should be left behind. We can no longer accept that young people in London are far more likely to achieve good outcomes at school than those in other regions.

"This disparity is a disgrace, and education has become a postcode lottery," she said.

Watch the full speech here.


Autism was another issue Jo Cox campaigned on with parents from her constituency and the National Autism Society.

On Tuesday, 8 March she raised concerns in Westminster Hall about delays in assessments.

Speaking afterwards, she said: "The government is slowly waking up to the scale of the personal tragedy of delayed autism diagnosis.

"I think the commitment is there but the minister needs to keep driving forward progress to deal with the backlog and the delays."

Watch the debate here.

Abolition of child poverty targets

On 26 January, Jo Cox took part in a debate on child poverty.

"In my constituency, one-third of children in Batley live in poverty, which is heartbreaking and shocking for the many hard-working families there."

She added: "It is simply not credible to tackle child poverty without acknowledging the worst issue - a lack of money."

Watch the full debate here.​

Related Topics

More on this story

  • Reaction to killing of MP Jo Cox