Jo Cox's widower calls for an end to 'dehumanising' behaviour

Jo Cox’s widower calls for an end to ‘dehumanising’ behaviour on Left and Right as he warns people who boast ‘I’ve never kissed a Tory’ are ‘celebrating political segregation’

  • Brendan Cox urged a challenge to comments ‘celebrating political segregation’
  • Mr Cox’s wife Jo was stabbed to death by far-right extremist while an MP in 2016
  • His comments come after murder of Tory MP Sir David Amess in Essex on Friday
  • A 25-year-old man, Ali Harbi Ali, arrested on suspicion of Sir David’s murder

The widower of murdered MP Jo Cox today called for an end to the ‘dehumanising’ behaviour on both the Left and Right in the wake Sir David Amess’ murder.

Brendan Cox, whose wife was killed by a far-right extremist in 2016 while a serving Labour MP, said people needed to challenge comments which ‘celebrate political segregation’.

Giving an example, the 42-year-old, who has become a prominent campaigner in the wake of his wife’s murder, said he knows people who say ‘I’ve never kissed a Tory’ as a ‘badge of honour’.  

‘It’s almost a celebration of political segregation,’ Mr Cox told Times Radio.

‘I think that is absolutely something that we have to challenge. And linked to that we have to stop dehumanising our opponents.’

Mr Cox was speaking in the wake of the murder of Tory MP Sir David, who was stabbed to death during a constituency surgery event in Essex on Friday.

Brendan Cox (pictured speaking to the BBC today), whose wife was killed by a far-right extremist in 2016 while a serving Labour MP, said people needed to challenge comments which ‘celebrate political segregation’


Mr Cox, whose MP wife Jo (pictured left) was stabbed to death in 2016, was speaking in the wake of the murder of Tory MP Sir David (pictured right), who killed during a constituency surgery in Essex on Friday

A 25-year-old man, Ali Harbi Ali, has been arrested on suspicion of murder, while officials are investigation a possible link to Islamic extremism.

Mr Cox, a father-of-two, also spoke about his reaction to the news of the killing of Sir David, as he compared it to his own thoughts when he heard about the fatal attack on his wife in 2016.

Man, 76, is arrested after Labour MP Chris Bryant received death threat on social media following killing of Sir David Amess 

A pensioner has been arrested on suspicion of sending Labour MP Chris Bryant a death threat on the day after Sir David Amess was murdered in a suspected terror attack.

Mr Bryant, 59, whose constituency is Rhondda, was targeted after he posted on Twitter that people should consider being kinder in the wake of the tragedy.

The politician revealed he had been threatened later, adding: ‘You only have to look through some of the responses to this tweet to see the poison that is infecting British politics. And now I’ve had yet again another death threat.’

South Wales Police said a 76-year-old man from Pontycymer, near Bridgend, had been arrested on suspicion of malicious communications.

A spokeswoman told MailOnline: ‘South Wales Police was called around 4.30pm on October 16 following reports of malicious communications being sent to a 59 year old man from Porth.

‘A 76 year old man from Pontycmer, Bridgend, has been arrested on suspicion of malicious communications.’

Ms Cox, then Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was shot and stabbed by far-right extremist Thomas Mair, who murdered her near to where she was due to hold a constituency surgery.

‘I had a very physical reaction to it (the news of the attack on Sir David)’, he told Times Radio.

‘I found it extremely difficult to function for a while. That was both from being back in that moment five years ago when I got the call from somebody in Jo’s office telling me that she had been attacked.

‘But also just knowing what that family would be going through. 

‘The pain of the desperate hope in those immediate minutes when you hope that they are not too badly hurt to then the realisation of what’s happened and the darkness and sadness of that, that is then with you for years, for the rest of your life.’ 

It comes as Sir David’s family last night paid tribute to the stalwart Conservative MP, who was stabbed 17 times as he met with his Southend West constituents on Friday afternoon.

In a heartbreaking statement his family called for people to ‘set aside hatred’, adding: ‘Nobody should die in that way. Nobody. 

‘Whatever one’s race, religious or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand.

‘We are absolutely broken, but we will survive and carry on for the sake of a wonderful and inspiring man.’

It comes as the suspect accused of stabbing Sir David had been forced to attend an official deradicalisation course after a teacher spotted his extremist views at least five years ago.

Ali Harbi Ali, 25, is being held by police on suspicion of murdering the veteran Conservative MP as he met with his Southend West constituents on Friday afternoon. It is believed the suspected Islamist terrorist may have chosen his victim at random having become obsessed with killing any MP.

His friends have claimed he was further radicalised and turned into a lone-wolf killer during lockdown watching YouTube videos of convicted hate preacher Anjem Choudary with police and MI5 also looking whether Sir David was chosen due to his support for Qatar, which has been exerting its influence in Somalia, the country of his diplomat father’s birth.

Ali, the son of a former Somalian diplomat who was born in Britain and raised in Croydon, was referred to the flagship anti-extremism scheme, Prevent, which aims to stop individuals becoming terrorists. 

But there are major questions after his behaviour was not considered to be extreme enough to alert MI5. These referrals are not currently mandatory.

Ali Harbi Ali, 25, is being held by police on suspicion of murdering the veteran Conservative MP as he met with his Southend West constituents on Friday afternoon

Police officers erect a tent outside a house in north London, thought to be in relation to the death of Sir David

Left to right: Katie, wife Julia, Flo, Sir David Amess, Sarah and Alex at Flo’s wedding in August

MP Mark Francois lays flowers at the scene near Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North

Police and intelligence officials are said to be mystified about why the veteran Tory politician was singled out for attack by a suspected Islamist extremist. Investigators now believe that there may have been no specific motive for the targeting of Sir David, and that the 69-year-old was stabbed to death because his alleged killer had succeeded in booking a face-to-face meeting with him at a church in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday

Dominic Raab today backed proposals for all MPs to have private security at their surgeries instead of police guards after the murder of Sir David Amess and revealed he has had three threats to ‘life and limb’ since 2019 including an acid attack.

The Deputy Prime Minister has said he wouldn’t want plain clothes officers outside his surgeries as it would have a ‘chilling effect’ – but wouldn’t criticise MPs who ask for it and also said he was ‘happy to look’ at whether politicians should wear stab vests.

Mr Raab also signalled he could support closing anonymous social media accounts to tackle online hatred and claimed that there is now the ‘constant vilification of MPs’ in the UK.

It came as Priti Patel said that police may be drafted in to guard MPs during surgeries and that airport-style scanners would also be considered in the wake of Sir David’s murder in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday lunchtime.

But Mr Raab rejected the idea of plainclothes police protecting him and said: ‘I would be more inclined to look at private security guards and there’s already more money for that’.

He told Sky News: ‘I probably wouldn’t choose to have them (plainclothes police) outside a surgery that I had. I would worry about the chilling effect, I’m not sure it’s necessary to have that.’ 

Mr Raab also revealed that has had three threats to ‘life and limb’ over the past two years –  and said the most recent threat he has received was of an acid attack.

Asked about the possibility of MPs wearing stab-proof vests, he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘I’m happy to look at any practical measures, but the reality is that people will threaten you with something else. The most recent threat I’ve had was someone threatening to throw acid over me.’

He said there was an ‘intervention’ in relation to the threat – but didn’t say what police had done.

He is alleged to have shown an interest in radical Islam and was referred to Prevent, believed to be when he was in his late teens. 

He decided to move in with an aunt and her sons in a council house in the upmarket North London enclave of Kentish Town, in a street of £2million three-storey townhouses.

His referral is understood to have coincided with a deterioration in his relationship with his Somali-born parents. Ali’s parents split up when he was young and his father returned to Somalia. One neighbour, who has known the family for twenty years, said that Ali spoke of hopes of becoming a doctor with the NHS, saying: ‘He told me he’d been doing exams and he seemed westernised.’

Police and intelligence officials are said to be mystified about why the 69-year-old Tory politician was singled out for attack by a suspected Islamist extremist. Reports had initially suggested that Sir David, a devout Roman Catholic and prominent Brexiteer who was MP for Southend West, had been selected because of his political views or religion.

Investigators now believe that there may have been no specific motive for the targeting of Sir David, and that the 69-year-old was stabbed to death because his alleged killer had plotted to kill any national politician – and had succeeded in booking a face-to-face meeting with him at a church in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday.

Sources close to the investigation believe Ali may have considered killing other MPs, including Labour and Tory politicians, before picking Sir David, according to The Telegraph. 

One government insider told the paper: ‘He was unlucky. He was not targeted because of his political party. David Amess was not specifically targeted.’

The revelation raises urgent questions about the mentoring scheme and whether an opportunity was missed to avert the MP’s horrific murder.

Police are also investigating the alleged close ties between Sir David and Qatar. The Tory MP was chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Gulf state and returned from his latest visit there on Wednesday last week. 

The man being questioned over the stabbing is the son of a former adviser to the office of the Prime Minister of Somalia. Qatar supports the present Somali President. Security sources told The Times that all avenues were being explored in the case.

Last night former friends of Ali, a British national of Somali heritage who grew up in a three-bed 1980s terrace house in Croydon with his mother, two sisters and brother, claimed he was radicalised after watching YouTube videos of convicted hate preacher Anjem Choudary.

Speaking to The Sun, they claimed the videos turned Ali from a ‘popular pupil into an extremist’. 

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