Britain Opinion: Brexit, The “Enemy Within”, & Killing of Jo Cox


PHOTO: Jo Cox in Parliament in April “We are far more united than things that divide us”

I only met Jo Cox once. Among her numerous interests, the MP chaired Britain’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Syria, and she had asked me to present an analysis of the need for safe zones to protect Syrian civilians.

She was gracious, charming, and animated by energy and passion. Jaded by years of failure to get any effective action over Syria, I discovered a flicker of hope when she explained what needed to be done. We parted with a promise for a discussion in the near-future.

See also Britain Opinion: A Moment to Reflect — What Did Jo Cox Stand For?

We could never quite arrange that further meeting, but I was fortunate to know much more about Jo. I worked with her staff on the Syria issue, and they never stopped talking about her devotion and unfailing optimism, even in the darkest of moments. I discovered more about her compassion and dedication to better the situation of immigrants and refugees, beginning with her humanitarian work at Oxfam and continuing into her Parliamentary service. Through social media, I followed Jo in her constituency in West Yorkshire, from visits to schools and community centers to her camping trip with a Brownie troop. On Wednesday, I read of her pride in her husband and two children: in the campaign over Britain’s European Union membership, they had joined a Remain boat in a jovial response to the invasion of a Leave “flotilla” up the River Thames in London.

Now Jo Cox is dead, shot and stabbed by a 52-year-old man at her constituency surgery on Thursday.

She was killed, not just because of her attacker’s “mental health problems” but amid the language of a political campaign which fed anger and anxiety. She was killed because of her decency in a time in which the indecent holds the lower but louder ground.

Attacking The “Enemy”

The promotion of Brexit often turns on the declaration of the “enemy”. The European Union is an enemy, foreshadowed by “Hitler’s wartime Reich”. European courts are a threat. Immigrants are going to overrun Britain. Refugees will take over “our” islands.

On Thursday morning, Nigel Farage — head of the UK Independence Party and one of Leave’s leading campaigners — proudly unveiled a poster which depicted the swarm of refugees bringing Britain to “Breaking Point”:


In such a Britain, it only takes a small jump to consider supporters of the rights of immigrants or advocates for compassionate treatment of refugees as an “enemy”, subverting the UK from within. Farage warned last month: ”

If people that they’ve lost control completely — and we have lost control of our borders completely — and if people feel that voting doesn’t change anything, then violence is the next step.

The UKIP leader speaks of a British Muslim “fifth column living within our country, who hate us and want to kill us”. Britain First explicitly labels the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, an “enemy of Britain”: “[His election is] a nail in the coffin of our great country and an insult to the millions of our ancestors who died for [it].”

Jo Cox was also one of those possible enemies within. In her maiden speech to Parliament last year, 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.

As he responded by taking Jo Cox’s life yesterday, her killer shouted “Britain First!”, according to witnesses. Police are investigating his links to right-wing groups.

Who? Us?

There is no direct connection between the attacker and the leaders of the Brexit campaign. They will be quick to remind us of this, as they speak of a “total tragedy” and how it is “appalling a MP should lose her life simply doing her best for constituents”.

Politicians did not put the gun and knife in the attacker’s hand. However, in a climate of suspicion and hatred, they provided corrosive words which could eat away at humanity, images that could resonate with a man’s deranged belief of how to save Britain from its enemies.

This was a man who could see a war with the EU, in which Britain’s “heroes of Europe” were held against the new version of “Hitler’s Reich”. He could see the poster of the hordes invading. He could see queues of Syrian refugees — the same refugees for whom Jo Cox sought some measure of security from bombing, sieges, and displacement — into the “Breaking Point” for the UK.

“Hate is Poisonous”

In Orlando, Florida on Sunday, a man took the lives of more than 50 people because he listened to the rhetoric of a group that proclaimed that homosexuality is evil and that Western culture is immoral.

Five days later, one of Britain’s finest MPs — one of the finest people in public life whom I have ever met, if only far too briefly — is dead because a man turned unity into grounds for fear and compassion into a reason to hate.

We are left to carry on. And so I hold onto the far different rhetoric of Jo Cox’s husband Brendan Cox, who wrote on Thursday amid the grieving and pain:

Jo 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.

She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous.

Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full.

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  1. In any place of the world there are/were Pol Pot’s,Hitler’s,Stalin’s.Or ugly copies Bashir,Bashar,KIM.Putin.
    The democracy is guilty when it allows hatred and its adepts to proliferate,to born and nurse monsters.
    And the bad news is: a germ dimension monster exists in each of us when born. And where it is not a democracy but a lot of stupidity ,such monsters try to paint the standard from their own mirroring image.
    Hatred acts at society or at individual level;it is based on inferiority or superiority feelings; or on inequity.
    And I did not include the inherited or genetic mental disorder ……but the one achieved because of the society we live.
    Too much to write about! But to be silent?? Many times good people leave and evil persons enjoy a nice life.
    I still consider UK a normal country. Such a crime by a Brexit adept should trigger millions of normal undecided people to vote against Britain “out”

  2. Please stick to Syria Scot. There is enough government propaganda regarding the United States of Europe without you contributing to it.
    Our once great country is flooded with immigrants. There are now more foreigners in London than aboriginal English. There are areas where English is not even understood let alone spoken.
    Millions of immigrants have flooded into my country and are destroying it. Jobs are hard to find and so is accommodation. The twisted government are trying to create more homes by tricks like the spare bedroom tax to make people downsize, building lots of old peoples homes so that they can be moved out of the houses where they have lived for years and brought up their families. The damn government have allowed building on what was once green belt in order to bring more people into the country. My own village has planning for 90 more houses so that they can bring in unwelcome immigrants. Another village near house is trying to get planning for 254 new houses on an area of outstanding natural beauty. Our beautiful country side is under threat from people that are not wanted here. Our language is being degraded by people that speak Engriss. Our culture is being swamped by people that are not interested in our way of life and a small minority would like to destroy us. Just look at the bombings in London in 2005. There are many more foreigners born here that hate us as much as those bombers did. They are foreigners because their parents are foreign, their culture is foreign and their religion is foreign. They do not belong here and never will. My old granny used to say when a cat has kittens in the stable, you don’t call them horses.
    Immigration is destroying the country that I once loved and I will stand against it. Don’t call me racist. My wife is a very dark brown, my children are dusky, I speak two languages and have lived in four other countries. On the 23/6/2016 I will vote to leave the EU and if we do not, I will be willing to join in the revolution that will definitely follow. The Syrians are not the only ones that will stand up against abusive authorities.
    It is very sad that Jo Cox has been murdered and I feel for her family and friends. She worked hard in democratic country to obtain what she believed was right. She should not have paid for that with her life. That is not what democracy is all about. SHe deserved better
    I will speak up for stopping immigration into the UK because it is destroying my country and I will not let anybody in authority stop me. Many Englishmen have died and been imprisoned in order to gain our freedom of speech and it is a gift that I will not let die. Our government is constantly barraging us with a low level of propaganda. That is why I have no TV. That is why I source my information about Syria from EA Worldview. Please do not add to the misinformation from the British government on your otherwise excellent website.

    • I think that you will become a “revolutionary”.; because now,more than 24 hours ago, Brexit will fail.
      But if the “following Revolution” will win ,what will do the revolutionaries?
      -block visas for who?
      -expel foreigners?
      (who are these foreigners? do you want to block entry for Europe and let Asian? or it is about all? Americans too?how about mixed families?)
      -burn the immigrant houses?
      -nationalize their companies?
      HOW MANY SPECIAL LAWS WILL BE WRITTEN? And how many human right will be stolen ?
      ——– I don’t know,there are about 100 questions to be answered …and if your answers will be inside the UK “new revolution map”,the revolutionaries will look as the “football team supporters”,but only when fighting.

    • And you accuse the government of propaganda? Wow… you use some interesting “facts” here and even better logic. Well done… quoting granny was the icing on the cake for me. I find it sad that there are still people that still want to sit around dreaming about Victorian England and singing Rule Britannia all day… but hey, I realise that I live in the 21st century.

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