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At IAS, we usually err away from political commentary, preferring a neutral stance on immigration news that allows our customers to consume information and form their own opinions. In this instance, though, we can’t help but express the extent of our sadness at the tragic passing of MP Jo Cox. As a rising star on the political scene who was set to become a frontrunner within her party, Ms Cox worked tirelessly throughout her life for causes that she believed in, dedicating her career to helping others. She was one to be admired, to be praised, and to be held up as an example for young women, not to be cut down in the prime of a life that would undoubtedly have seen her achieve great things on behalf of those in need. So, it is with great sadness that we make this tribute that we should not be making.
After being born in Batley, West Yorkshire, Jo Cox went on to become the first member of her family to graduate from university. Upon graduating from prestigious Cambridge in 1995, Jo went straight into a job in parliament supporting another MP, before moving on to work at Oxfam, where she took on multiple roles including being their head of humanitarian campaigning. In her mere 41 years, Ms Cox achieved an outstanding amount in her charitable career, making significant contributions as an advocate for a great many causes including the NSPCC, Save the Children, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and, perhaps most notably, the Freedom Fund – a charity committed to working towards the end of modern slavery. At the time of her tragic death, she was working towards establishing ‘Women UK’, which was to be dedicated to improving conditions for women living in the UK regardless of status, race or religion.
As MP for her home constituency of Batley & Spen in West Yorkshire, she took a special interest in foreign affairs and international development, becoming an active member of parliamentary groups working on Palestine, Pakistan and Kashmir. In her maiden speech in the House of Commons just a year ago, she focussed intently on the diversity of her constituency, passionately stating that the area had been “deeply enhanced by immigration” and ensuring everyone knew that she believed it to be “a joy to represent such a diverse community”. Sadly, it was also during this speech that Ms Cox proclaimed with reference to immigration and EU membership that she was very much looking forward “to championing passionately in this place and elsewhere” – a statement that further stresses that her death will be a loss to us all.
Jo Cox has consistently been a voice for immigration and refugee affairs, even going as far as challenging the Prime Minister as to whether he had led or followed public opinion on the Migrant Crisis. In a particularly impassioned and eloquent speech about Syria in October of last year, Ms Cox referenced Iraq and urged ministers to “put the protection of civilians at the centre of our foreign policy”. Continually pushing on behalf of those who needed it, including migrants and refugees, Jo Cox used her political influence to further the causes that she believed to be just and right. For however short a time, she was able to bring these issues to the forefront, ensuring that they were heard and not brushed aside.
Jo Cox leaves behind a husband and two young children aged just 3 and 5. Her loss is one that is felt keenly by all who care as deeply as she did about human rights and protecting those who are unable to act for themselves.