Scotland politics

Politicians 'inspired' by Jo Cox, says Nicola Sturgeon

Kezia Dugdale and Nicola Sturgeon at vigil for Jo Cox in Glasgow
Image caption Kezia Dugdale and Nicola Sturgeon were among those who attended a vigil in Glasgow

Politicians have been "inspired to rededicate" themselves to public service following the death of MP Jo Cox, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Politicians across Scotland held their Friday surgeries as normal despite the death of the Labour MP, who was shot and stabbed after holding a constituency surgery in Birstall.

Ms Sturgeon paid tribute to Ms Cox at a meeting of the British-Irish Council.

Vigil events have been held in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Addressing a crowd of more than 300 people who gathered in George Square in Glasgow on Friday evening, Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale spoke of her sadness and said Ms Cox had been one of the "bright hopes" in British politics.

She added: "I hope the loss of Jo Cox's life becomes a new beginning for our politics."

Image caption About 300 people gathered to pay their respects in George Square in Glasgow
Image caption In Edinburgh flowers and tributes were laid and candles lit

The first minister also addressed the crowd, describing Ms Cox as "clearly a remarkable young woman".

She added: 'I'm deeply sorry I didn't have the opportunity to know Jo personally."

In Edinburgh, about 60 people gathered at the Woman and Child statue on Lothian Road.

Labour's shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray and Scottish Conservative leader were among those paying their respects, with candles lit and flowers laid.

EU referendum campaigning has been suspended across the country.

Earlier, flanked by Scottish Secretary David Mundell and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Ms Sturgeon said all at the British-Irish council wanted to "convey our heartfelt sympathies" to Ms Cox's family "and everyone who loved her".

'Hallmark of democracy'

She said: "As politicians we all value and are deeply committed to the openness and accessibility of elected representatives to the people we serve. It is in many ways the hallmark of our democracy.

"So events like yesterday's, although thankfully very rare, hit all of us as politicians very hard.

"But I think I speak on behalf of all of us when I say we are determined, and inspired by Jo Cox, to rededicate ourselves to the notion of politics and public service as a force for good."

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Media captionNicola Sturgeon says she is horrified at the "brutal and senseless murder" of MP Jo Cox

Mr Mundell revealed he had been told by police of a "credible" threat to his life after MPs backed airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria last December, but chose to not make it public at the time.

He criticised the "vilification" politicians are subjected to, saying "we've come to accept abuse and name-calling as a matter of course".

But he said that "you can't let those people who want to disrupt our political system win by refusing to be accessible to the public".

Tributes to Mrs Cox have continued to pour in from around the world.

Her attacker is reported to have shouted "put Britain first" at least twice. A 52-year-old man, named locally as Tommy Mair, has been arrested.

The 41-year-old MP's husband, Brendan, said his wife had "believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy and a zest for life that would exhaust most people".

Flags were flown at half mast at the Scottish Parliament and on Scottish government buildings as a mark of respect to Mrs Cox, who had two young children and was elected as the MP for Batley and Spen last year.

Ms Sturgeon tweeted on Friday morning that "Politicians all over the country will hold Friday surgeries today".

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Holyrood's flags are flying at half mast for the second time in a week after also being lowered following the Orlando massacre

She added: "We'll do so with heavy hearts. But it's what we do. May it never change."

Ms Sturgeon had been due to campaign alongside Scotland's three living former first ministers in favour of a Remain vote in the EU referendum, but the event will not now be held.

Her deputy, John Swinney, also took to Twitter to say: "Today I will do what I have done almost every Friday for 19 years - try to help constituents at my surgery. Today feels very different."

Labour's Ian Murray, told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme that there were concerns about abuse suffered by MPs - particularly on social media - but that Mrs Cox valued interaction with her constituents.

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Media captionEd Thomas reports on what we know about the attack on Jo Cox MP

Mr Murray said he would have a police presence at his Edinburgh South constituency office on Friday morning to ensure the safety of his staff.

He said an assessment would be carried out on the risks of holding scheduled events over the weekend.

But he added: "It is absolutely right that we do what we have always done, and show the public that members of parliament are accessible."

Scottish Labour's leader, Ms Dugdale, has lodged a motion at the Scottish Parliament paying tribute to Ms Cox, who she knew through the Labour Women's Network.

The motion urges everybody to heed the words of Ms Cox's husband when he called on people to "fight against the hatred that killed her".

Ms Dugdale also called on people from all parties to work together to "conduct our public debate with good humour, understanding and her enduring spirit to make the world a better place."