From immigration to Syria and Gaza to social care... Jo Cox’s Westminster contributions

Labour MP Jo Cox. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Labour MP Jo Cox. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

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Jo Cox made her maiden speech having been elected MP for Batley and Spen in the May 2015 general election. Here are some of the contributions she made in the House of Commons during her short time at Westminster.

• On immigration

In her maiden speech on June 3 2015 she said: “Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration, be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir. While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

She also challenged David Cameron on September 9 2015, asking: “Can the Prime Minister tell the House whether he thinks he has led public opinion on the refugee crisis, or followed it?”

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• On Syria

Ms Cox made an impassioned speech on the crisis in Syria on October 12 2015, in which she said:

“Every decade or so, the world is tested by a crisis so grave that it breaks the mould: one so horrific and inhumane that the response of politicians to it becomes emblematic of their generation - their moral leadership or cowardice, their resolution or incompetence. It is how history judges us.

“We have been tested by the Second World War, the genocide in Rwanda and the slaughter in Bosnia, and I believe that Syria is our generation’s test. Will we step up to play our part in stopping the abject horror of the Syrian civil war and the spread of the modern-day fascism of Isis, or will we step to one side, say that it is too complicated, and leave Iran, Russia, Assad and Isis to turn the country into a graveyard?”

Continuing, she said: “The history of Iraq hangs over us all, and it should, but its legacy is awful enough without supplementing it with a new one of ignoring the slaughter in Syria. We must not let it cloud our judgment or allow us to lose sight of our moral compass.

“The war in Iraq led to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of civilians. Its legacy must be to make us all put the protection of civilians at the centre of our foreign policy, not to make us sit on the sidelines while hundreds of thousands more are killed and millions flee for their lives.”

In an urgent question to Middle East minister Tobias Ellwood, on May 3 2016 she said:

“While I’m a huge fan of president Obama, and indeed worked for him in North Carolina in 2008, on Syria I believe that president Obama and the Prime Minister made the biggest misjudgment of their time in office when they put Syria on the too difficult pile - and instead of engaging fully, withdrew and put their faith in a policy of containment.

“This judgment, made by both leaders for different reasons, will, I believe be judged harshly by history and has been nothing short of a foreign policy disaster.”

“I don’t believe that either president Obama or the Prime Minister tried to do harm in Syria but, as is said, sometimes all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

• On Gaza

At a UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict held at Westminster Hall on July 8 2015 she said: “As a former Oxfam aid worker for many years, I have worked for far too long on and in the conflict that we are debating, but I still believe that there will be a resolution in my lifetime - hopefully in the next few years.”

She said there was a need for “materials to get into Gaza so that people can rebuild their lives”, adding: “Both sides of the conflict deserve access to justice and accountability”.

• On tax avoidance

To John McDonnell on April 13 2016 she said: “Having spent 10 years as an aid worker, I am acutely aware of the millions of pounds that are lost to development in poor countries as a result of these tax havens.

“Does my honourable friend agree that, before the anti-corruption summit that will take place in London in May, the Prime Minister needs to do far more to reassure the House that he will accelerate his efforts to persuade British overseas territories to mirror the United Kingdom’s welcome move, and establish a transparent public register of beneficial ownership?”

• On social care

In a question to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Oliver Letwin, following the Autumn Statement, on December 9 2015, she said: “As the Minister will be aware, our country is in the grip of a growing social care crisis, with significant funding shortfalls projected by 2020. There are huge pressures on families, carers and the NHS in my constituency and nationwide.

“Will he say what specific plans he has to support those charities that are currently plugging the gap in terms of care, but are under enormous strain?”

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