Jo Cox was a ‘pocket rocket from the north’ who fought for the weakest

Labour MP Jo Cox. Picture: PA
Labour MP Jo Cox. Picture: PA
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In just over a year as an MP, “proud Yorkshire lass” Jo Cox gained a reputation as a rising star, impressing colleagues with her energy, conviction and plain-spoken style. Her husband Brendan described her as having a “zest for life that would exhaust most people”.

Tipped as a future minister, if she was striding to the summit of politics it is no surprise she enjoyed Munro-bagging in her spare time.

The issue closest to her heart was the plight of Syrian refugees. As an active Remain campaigner, her maiden speech in the Commons argued that “our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration”.

Mrs Cox grew up in the town of Heckmondwike, in her Yorkshire constituency. Her mother, Jean, was a school secretary, and her father, Gordon, worked in a factory in Leeds.

She gained a place at Cambridge, crediting her political awakening to the experience. “It was just a realisation that where you were born mattered, that how you spoke mattered … who you knew mattered,” she told the Yorkshire Post recently. “I didn’t really speak right or knew the right people.”

After graduating in 1995, she worked for charities in the developing world, becoming head of policy for Oxfam. Colleague Max Lawson said: “Jo was a diminutive pocket rocket from the north. She was a ball of energy, always smiling, full of new ideas, of idealism, of passion.”

And she was not afraid to give voice to her convictions. After poor results in May’s elections, she publicly admonished her leader, saying: “Jeremy needs to personally recognise that this isn’t good enough.”

She also stood up to Mr Corbyn over airstrikes in Syria, making the humanitarian case for intervention.