Re­mem­ber­ing Jo

a pow­er­ful new doc­u­men­tary tells the tragic story of the mur­der of mp Jo Cox

TV Times - - Real Life - Sean Mar­land

On the af­ter­noon of 16 June 2016, Jo Cox was head­ing to a meet­ing with her con­stituents in Birstall, West York­shire, when she was bru­tally mur­dered.

Jo’s death at 41 came as Bri­tain was pre­par­ing to vote in the EU ref­er­en­dum. This week, a new BBC2 doc­u­men­tary, Jo Cox: Death of an MP, tells the heart­break­ing story of how the tragedy united her grief-stricken com­mu­nity.

‘Jo had so much en­ergy and was so de­ter­mined to help peo­ple,’ says San­dra Ma­jor, who be­gan work­ing as Jo’s as­sis­tant when she be­came the Labour MP for Bat­ley and Spen in 2015.

‘Jo was so proud to be rep­re­sent­ing the com­mu­nity where she’d grown up. Keep­ing up with her was hard work, but she was also down to earth and had this abil­ity to bring peo­ple on a jour­ney with her. She re­ally con­nected with peo­ple.’

Dur­ing the run-up to the ref­er­en­dum, Jo Cox had been pas­sion­ate in her sup­port of the Re­main cam­paign, and her out­spo­ken views on Syr­ian refugees caught the at­ten­tion of Thomas Mair, a lo­cal man who held ex­treme views on im­mi­gra­tion to the UK.

Af­ter a surgery for mem­bers of the pub­lic at her lo­cal li­brary, Jo was ap­proached by Mair.

‘As we got out of the car I saw a man com­ing to­wards us,’ says San­dra, who was with Jo on that fate­ful day.

‘He got a gun out of his bag and shot Jo in the head. He didn’t say a word, and as Jo fell back there was blood ev­ery­where. Then, while she was on the floor, he started stab­bing her, be­fore stand­ing over her and shoot­ing her twice, and then walk­ing off calmly and say­ing: “That’s for Bri­tain”.’

Jo’s of­fice man­ager, Fazila Aswat, rushed to help the in­jured mother of two, and fights back tears as she re­calls how her friend lay dy­ing in her arms. ‘I just didn’t want Jo to be on her own,’ says Fazila. ‘I held her and there was so much blood. I told her to think of her chil­dren, but she told me

she couldn’t move. She said; “I can’t make it, I’m in too much pain”. It seemed to take an eter­nity for the am­bu­lance to ar­rive.’

af­ter stab­bing an el­derly gen­tle­man who tried to as­sist Jo, Mair then wan­dered off, be­fore be­ing ar­rested by two un­armed po­lice of­fi­cers less than half-an-hour later.

‘We ques­tioned Mair for nearly six hours and he said noth­ing,’ says De­tec­tive Supt Nick Wallen of West York­shire Po­lice. ‘He didn’t re­act to any­thing we said. To this day we have no idea why he did what he did.’

For Jo’s wid­ower Bren­dan, who has been left to raise two chil­dren Cuillin, six, and Le­jla, four, alone, the pain will never go away.

‘It’s tough enough that her death has shat­tered my life,’ he says. ‘But it’s done the same to the kids. They will grow up with­out a mum be­cause of one man’s ha­tred to­wards some­one who only wanted to help peo­ple. Think­ing of them gives me strength to keep go­ing, be­cause I want them to know what a great per­son their mum was.’

Jo was so proud to be rep­re­sent­ing the com­mu­nity where she’d grown up san­dra Ma­jor, jo’s as­sis­tant

De­ter­mined to help peo­ple: The mem­ber for Bat­ley and Spen

Shat­tered: Jo’s hus­band Bren­dan with cuillin and Le­jla

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