Tonbridge & Malling MP Tom Tugendhat has described the ‘heartbreaking’ loss of his friend and colleague Jo Cox, who was brutally murdered last week.
He said her death was not only a huge blow for her family, but also a direct attack on freedom of speech, as she passionately represented her community.
Labour MP Mrs Cox, aged 41, was shot and stabbed outside the library where she was set to hold a constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire, on Thursday. She stood for Parliament just a year ago and had been considered a rising star.
Remembrance services were held around the country, including one at St Stephen’s Church in Tonbridge on Saturday which was attended by Mr Tugendhat.
Speaking to the Times, he said: “Jo was great, we had been working together on a publication that we had hoped would be due out in weeks which related to the Chilcot inquiry [into the Iraq war]. It had been intended to be a piece of work that was cross-party.
“She was an incredibly kind and intelligent woman. It’s extraordinarily sad that we find ourselves losing one of the great and courageous voices of our generation.
“She was a mother with children who are only slightly older than mine and her loss is heartbreaking.”
“Her family has lost a mother and wife, but in a strange way we have all lost something – the ability to speak freely in our own country and we must fight to get it back. We must stand up and not be afraid.”
The murder of Mrs Cox highlighted the fact that MPs operate with little security surrounding their work, especially in their constituencies.
Mr Tugendhat added: “I tend to be around as much as I possibly can in visiting businesses and people and couldn’t do my job unless I was able to do this. But I am not going to be employing guards.”
This was the first time since 1990 an MP has been murdered, with the last being Ian Gow, secretary to Margaret Thatcher, – killed by an IRA bomb in East Sussex.
Thomas Mair aged 52, has been charged with the murder of Mrs Cox.