Jonathan Reynolds pays tribute to Jo Cox MP
Tuesday 21st June 2016 @ 15:53 by Adam Higgins
News Stalybridge

Local MP Jonathan Reynolds has paid tribute to his colleague Jo Cox MP in a special session of parliament.

The MP for Stalybridge and Hyde recounted how Jo, a long-term family friend, once noticed his wife Claire feeling uncomfortable when breastfeeding in public, and sat down next to her to feed her own baby son in solidarity.

Jo was tragically murdered in her constituency of Batley and Spen in Yorkshire last Thursday, leaving behind her husband Brendan and two young children.

Parliament was recalled from its break for the European Referendum for MPs from all parties to pay tribute to Jo.

Jonathan Reynolds MP

Wearing a white Yorkshire rose to honour this Yorkshire lass, Jonathan said in the House of Commons on Tuesday:

“This is a speech I could not even have imagined giving just a few days ago. How bitterly ironic it feels to be here, in one of the greatest debating chambers the world has ever known, and yet no words can do justice to our sense of loss or the grief we feel for Jo’s family.

“My wife Claire and I have known Jo and her husband Brendan for many years. They are a couple very much like each other—driven, passionate and impatient to change the world. I remember before the last election having dinner with them on their boat and encouraging Jo to stand for selection if her home town constituency of Batley and Spen came up. I thought she would be a brilliant candidate for Labour and a huge asset to Parliament. Her whole life had been spent serving others. I told her she could continue to do that here in Parliament, yet her willingness to enter public service has now cost her her life.

“Over the weekend many people have rightly praised Jo’s maiden speech or cited her campaigning on Syria and refugees as the way that they will remember her, but a different sort of story about Jo as a friend and a mother has been the memory most on my mind. It was at Labour party conference about five years ago, when my wife was breastfeeding our daughter at a fringe event and feeling quite self-conscious about it—some older comrades were still not at ease with that sort of thing. Jo saw that and she sat down next to Claire and began to feed her own son, just to show solidarity with Claire and to make her feel better. It is just one example of how Jo always thought of others in her everyday life. They went on to work together through Labour Women’s Network, which Jo would chair while also changing the world through her day job and raising her young family with so much love.

“Through Labour Women’s Network, Jo would fight for other working-class women to have the same opportunities as her, to end everyday sexism and to make politics a safer space for women. What agony it is that her life is now for ever testament to just how important those causes are. Jo was right to believe in public service, she was right to believe in making the world a better place, and she was right to believe in this place.

“In the overwhelming grief of this story there are shards of hope that exemplify just what this country is really about: the two unarmed police officers who wrestled her assailant to the ground; the 77-year-old retired miner, Bernard Kenny, who dashed from his car to try to save her; and her assistant, Fazila Aswat, who was with her when it happened. Theirs are the true faces of the Britain that we love.

“Most of all, there is Jo herself. Once, when I had my own daughter with me in this place, she turned to me and asked, “Daddy, can little girls become the Prime Minister?” When our daughters ask us that question, let us tell them and inspire them with Jo’s story—Jo the parliamentarian, Jo the campaigner, Jo the mother and Jo our friend.”