Jo Cox’s parents say she would have not changed anything, Leeds MP and friend reveals

Labour MP Rachel Reeves.
Labour MP Rachel Reeves.
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Jo Cox’s parents said their daughter “would not have changed a thing” and lived the life she wanted to lead, her long-term friend has said.

But Labour’s Rachel Reeves said Mrs Cox’s mother and father also told her there was so much more she could have done.

And her death has made her constituents in Batley and Spen want to be more like her, Ms Reeves added.

The Leeds West MP, whose constituency is just a few miles away from Mrs Cox’s, said: “On Friday morning, less than 24 hours after Jo was killed I sat in a coffee shop in Batley just a few minutes away from where Jo had been murdered.

“A woman came over to me and said she hadn’t known Jo but that her death had made her want to be a bit more like her - a better person, a better mother, a better daughter, a better wife.”

She went on: “She died doing the job that she loved in the place that she loved, representing the people that she loved.

“Her mum and dad said to me that Jo wouldn’t have changed a thing.

“She lived the life that she wanted to live and yet in her mum’s words, she had so much more that she could have done.

“Jo was struck down much too soon so it now falls on all of our shoulders - the woman I met in the coffee shop in Batley, Jo’s friends, MPs, all of us to carry on Jo’s work.

“To combat and guard against hatred, intolerance and injustice, to serve others with dignity and with love, and that is the best way that we can remember Jo and all that she stood for.”

Ms Reeves broke down in tears as she added: “Batley and Spen will go on to elect a new MP, but no one can replace a mother.”

Earlier, Ms Reeves said she knew Mrs Cox for around 10 years and her husband Brendan for 18 years, and spoke of her “very fond memories” of the late MP.

She said: “I remember them coming around for dinner at the house of my husband and I in London and us visiting them on their boat, first in Ladbroke Grove and later in Wapping.

“I remember worrying that I’d drunk too much wine early in the evening until I realised it was the boat that was swaying and not me.

“I remember talking with Jo about her future shortly after I became an MP.

“She was thinking about standing for Parliament and spent a day shadowing me in my Leeds West constituency - talking to constituents about their problems, campaigning with party members and attending meetings.

“By the end of the day a lot of people weren’t sure who the MP was and who was doing the shadowing.

“Jo had a way with people, a way of relating to people from all walks of life and she had a real way of doing that.

“Her main hesitation about a parliamentary career was her young family. She worried, as many of us do, about whether you could be a great MP and a great mum at the same time.

“But when the opportunity came up to represent her home seat of Batley and Spen, Jo felt a special responsibility to step up and do what she could do for the place where she was born, grew up and went to school. The place that Jo called home.”

Saphieh Ashtiany, the equality and employment lawyer

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