Helen Joanne Cox was a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Batley and Spen constituency from her election in May 2015.
At 12:53 pm BST on 16 June 2016, Cox was fatally shot and stabbed outside a library in Birstall, West Yorkshire, where she was about to hold a constituency surgery at 1:00 pm. A 77-year-old local man, Bernard Kenny, was also stabbed in the stomach while trying to fend off her attacker.
Thomas Mair, a 52-year-old Batley and Spen constituent had links to the U.S.-based neo-Nazi group National Alliance, shouted “This is for Britain. Britain will always come first” as he carried out the attack.
Cox was born Helen Joanne Leadbeater on 22 June 1974 in Batley, West Yorkshire, England. She was educated at Heckmondwike Grammar School, where she was head girl. During summers, she worked packing toothpaste. Cox studied Social and Political Sciences at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1995. She later studied at the London School of Economics.
Following her graduation, Cox worked as an adviser to Labour MP Joan Walley. From 2001 to 2009, she worked for the aid groups Oxfam and head of Oxfam International’s humanitarian campaigns in New York City in 2007. Her work for Oxfam in which she met disadvantaged groups in Darfur and Afghanistan influenced her political thinking. Cox’s charity work led to a role advising Sarah Brown, wife of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who was spearheading a campaign to prevent deaths in pregnancy and childbirth. Cox was the national chair of the Labour Women’s Network and a senior adviser to the Freedom Fund, an anti-slavery charity.
Reasons for Cox’s Murder
Cox, a supporter of the Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East, called for the lifting of the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Cox campaigned for a solution to the Syrian Civil War. In October 2015, she co-authored an article in The Observer with Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, arguing that British military forces could help achieve an ethical solution to the conflict, including the creation of civilian safe havens in Syria. During that month Cox launched the All Party Parliamentary Friends of Syria group, becoming its chair. In the Commons vote in December to approve UK military intervention against ISIL in Syria, Cox abstained because she believed in a more comprehensive strategy that would also include combatting President Bashar al-Assad and his “indiscriminate barrel bombs”.
By refusing to tackle Assad’s brutality, we may actively alienate more of the Sunni population, driving them towards Isis. So I have decided to abstain. Because I am not against airstrikes per se, but I cannot actively support them unless they are part of a plan. Because I believe in action to address Isis, but do not believe it will work in isolation.