Jo Cox, the 41-year-old Labour Party member of Parliament for Batley and Spen who was killed Thursday, was a rising star in British politics.
The activist was elected to Parliament for the first time last year and quickly made a name for herself on matters such as immigration, Syrian refugees, and Britain’s membership in the European Union. Prior to that, she spent a decade working at Oxfam, the British aid agency, in various senior capacities in the U.K., U.S. and Brussels. Immediately before she was elected to Parliament in May 2015, she worked at the Freedom Fund, an anti-slavery organization, and at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, according to a biography on her website.
Cox represented an area in which she was born and raised—and of which she was proud—in Yorkshire, as can be seen in her maiden speech to Parliament.
But that speech is notable not just for her touting of her constituency’s “typically independent, no-nonsense and proud Yorkshire towns and villages,” but also for her reference to how diverse the area is.
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.
Cox also lauded her constituency’s “spirit of nonconformity”—a spirit she herself exhibited on several occasions as an MP. She was one of 36 lawmakers who nominated Jeremy Corbyn to be the Labour Party leader, but she voted instead for Liz Kendal, his rival, in the leadership election. She later said she regretted nominating Corbyn, who is now the party’s leader. Last month, after the party’s disappointing election results, she said: “I don’t think it’s time for a leadership challenge against Jeremy, but I do think Jeremy needs to personally recognize that this isn’t good enough.”