West Yorkshire came to a standstill today as residents and politicians stood side-by-side in silence to mark the passing of MP Jo Cox.
A minute’s silence was well observed by mourning MPs, friends and residents at the scene of her killing in Market Street, Birstall, as well as at Batley Town Hall, just yards away from the late politician’s boarded up constituency office where floral tributes were piled high, at 1pm.
Local authorities across the region also joined in with the silent tribute organised by Kirklees Council in memory of the 41-year-old Batley and Spen MP as her constituents began to digest the news of her death.
Meanwhile, with flags at local authority buildings at half-mast across Yorkshire, books of condolence were opened in Batley and at other town halls in the district including Huddersfield, Dewsbury and Cleckheaton.
Deputy Mayor of Kirklees, Coun Christine Iredale, was the first to sign Batley’s book.
“You can see what a wonderful lady she was and what a sad loss she will be both in Parliament and the constituency,” she said. “I just feel so sad for her family, her husband and those lovely children.
“Her work must continue, she was a courageous humanitarian lady and it would be a fitting tribute if her work was to continue here.”
The minute’s silence comes hours before communities across the UK, in places as far afield as Glasgow, Cardiff, London, Dublin and Belfast, are due to stage vigils in Mrs Cox’s honour tonight. A multi-faith reflection on her life will be held in Batley Square at 5pm.
Mrs Cox was shot and stabbed outside Birstall Library, where she was holding an advice surgery for constituents, yesterday at around 1pm.
West Yorkshire Police confirmed that a doctor working with a paramedic crew pronounced her dead at 1.48pm. Officers arrested a man a short time later and weapons including a gun were seized.
Mrs Cox’s friend and fellow politician, Coun Gwen Lowe (Lab, Batley West), shared a tearful embrace with council workers before signing the book of condolence in Batley.
“She was an inspirational MP, she was a loyal Labour colleague but above all she was my friend,” she said. “She just cared about everyone and she made everyone feel special.
“She just tried to meet as many people as she could, she was an MP who got her hands dirty, she was just so down to earth. We were just so lucky to have her as our MP.”
Having met Mrs Cox during her general election campaign last year, Coun Lowe added: “We just gave it our all to make sure that she won as we knew she would be so good for Batley and Spen – everybody just fell in love with her.”
Last night around 300 mourners attended St Peter’s Church on Kirkgate, Birstall, only a short walk from the spot where Jo Cox was fatally attacked, to pay their respects.