Thomas Mair, charged with the murder of popular Labour MP Jo Cox, was remanded to custody by the Westminster magistrates’ court on Saturday after giving his name in court as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”.
Campaigning for the June 23 referendum on Britain’s future in the European Union remained suspended for the weekend in view of Cox’s murder on Thursday, but is expected to resume with a more respectful tone on Sunday.
Emma Arbuthnot, deputy chief magistrate, ordered that Mair be remanded in custody at Belmarsh prison until his next appearance at the Old Bailey on Monday. She suggested a psychiatric report be prepared: “Bearing in mind the name he has just given, he ought to be seen by a psychiatrist.”
Nick Wallen of West Yorkshire Police said Mair was charged with murder, grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of an offensive weapon.
Mair, 52, refused to give his name in court, and did not respond when asked to confirm his address and date of birth.
A 77-year-old man, who was injured when he tried to help Cox during the attack, was reported to be in a stable condition in hospital. Vigils have been held across Britain and Prime Minister David Cameron and opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn visited Cox’s Batley and Spen constituency to pay tributes.
Parliament has been recalled on Monday to allow MPs to pay tributes to Cox, a first-time MP elected in the May 2015 election.
The murder, the first of a British MP since 1990, sent shockwaves around the world. The 41-year-old mother of two was shot and stabbed in the street in a daylight attack in her constituency in northern England as she was heading for a meeting with local residents.
Both sides in the deeply divisive campaign ahead of the referendum on EU membership cancelled events amid calls for a less acrimonious political debate.
Cox, a former aid worker, was an advocate for refugee rights and immigration and wanted Britain to remain in the EU.
US President Barack Obama on Friday phoned Cox’s husband Brendan to offer condolences.
“The president noted that the world is a better place because of her selfless service to others, and that there can be no justification for this heinous crime,” the White House said in a statement.
Flowers on the river -
Eyewitness Hichem Ben Abdallah, 56, told AFP on Friday that he heard two shots and saw Cox on the ground.
“Her face was full of blood,” said Ben Abdallah, who campaigned alongside the Labour politician before she was elected to parliament for the first time last year.
“She stood for peace and transparency, fighting corruption, wanted justice for all. I think her flame will carry on,” he said. “I hope we learn lessons from this.”
A fund created in Cox’s memory by her friends and family has raised more than £250,000 ($359,000) so far for charities close to her heart.
The money will support the Royal Voluntary Service which helps combat loneliness in her constituency; the Hope Not Hate anti-extremism group and the White Helmets volunteer search and rescue workers in Syria.
At a vigil in London’s Parliament Square on Friday evening, hundreds of people gathered to lay flowers and pay their respects, holding a minute’s silence.
Cox lived with her husband Brendan and their two children, aged three and five, on a houseboat moored on the River Thames in London, close to the city’s iconic Tower Bridge. Mourners laid flowers on the roof of the converted barge along with pictures of the slain MP.
(With inputs from agencies)