British MP Jo Cox killed for political views, husband says

MP Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed a week before Britain’s referendum on European Union membership

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MP Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed a week before Britain’s referendum on European Union membership, died because of her political views and had been deeply troubled by the tone of the campaign, her husband said on Tuesday.

Prime Minister David Cameron appealed to voters across the generation gap to back staying in the EU, two days before a closely fought referendum that will shape the future of Europe. The campaign to leave the EU has echoes of populist movements across Europe and in the United States.

The murder of Cox, a 41-year-old mother of two young children who was an ardent supporter of EU membership, shocked the country and abruptly changed the tone of a caustic campaign that has polarised Britons.

“She had very strong political views and I believe she was killed because of those views,” her husband Brendan Cox told broadcasters. “She died because of them and she would want to stand up for those in death as much as she did in life.”

It was unclear how Brendan Cox’s words might influence the EU vote that Cameron said was likely to be “very close”.

Cox had been worried about Britain’s political culture, including a coarsening of language and people taking more extreme positions, her husband said. She was also concerned about divisive politics globally.

“She worried about the tone of the debate” that focused increasingly on immigration and “about the tone of whipping up fears and whipping up hatred”.

“I think the EU referendum has created a heightened environment for it but actually it also pre-existed that,” he said.

Britons vote on Thursday on whether to quit the 28-nation bloc amid warnings from world leaders, investors and companies that a decision to leave would diminish Britain’s influence and unleash turmoil on markets.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Cameron also predicted a “remain dividend” in the form of an investment surge if Britons voted to stay in the 28-nation bloc.