Dawn Butler, Labour MP for Brent Central recalls her relationship with Jo Cox:
“The headline was a heart stopper: ‘MP shot and stabbed’. Then the slow and painfuldrip-feed
of news. It became clear that it was Jo, our friend elected in 2015.
“I had created the Whatsapp group so we could share the joys and the challenges of Westminster. It was aimed at creating an environment where we could be human, funny, happy and sad.
“And nobody was funnier, happier or more human than Jo.Which has made the grief of the last few days all the more intense.We have been drowning in tears of sorrow and anger at our own loss and, of course, at the loss to her children and family, our country, our party and the people of Yorkshire she was so proud to serve.
“Jo was fun. She was warm, witty and, in her own words, a bit of a hippy.
“‘Dawn,’ she said one day, ‘Some constituents have seen me on TV speaking in Parliament. They tell me I need to smarten up in the Commons. what do you think?’”
“I was laughing so loud we had to leave the chamber. From then on we gave each other a daily commentary on our respective outfits.
“Our conversations quickly turned to her children. I would tell her just how amazing she was, a mum with two young kids juggling with the hectic life of politics.
“The debate over the bombing of ISIS in Syria has been perhaps the most difficult issue. Jo eventually ab- stained although she thought Britain had not done enough to end the the conflict.
“Jo commanded huge respect and would share her experiences of 10 years working in war zones. I remember vividly her profound words. ‘Everyone,’ she said, ‘keeps speaking about the pull factor. But what about the push factor?’
“What she was referring to were the children, as young as seven, who were being forced on to the frontline in Syria and of the children raped in conflicts. Jo reckoned this was the most horrendous period aid workers have ever seen.
“Jo had strong views on the language and tone of domestic politics, with British politicians apparently happy to ape the intolerance that is Donald Trump’s trademark.
“The dog whistle campaig ning is divisive and distasteful. It takes people’s legitimate concerns and warps them in- to hatred and fear of outsiders.What Jo believed in and practised was the politics of hope and compassion. Hope over fear and unity over division #moreincommon. She was always looking for practical ways to make lives better.
“It was only last Tuesday that I was hugging Jo after a seriously fun Cox family party aboard the boat where she lived with husband Brendan and their two children. ‘Let’s make this an annual thing,’ she said.
“Had I known this was to be our last hug I would have held her a little longer.”