Jo Cox, a popular first-time Labour MP from West Yorkshire and a “Remain in EU” supporter, was battling for life after being stabbed and shot by a man in her constituency, sending shock waves across Britain’s political establishment.
Cox, 42, is the MP from Batley and Spen, nearly 340 km north of London. She was airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary after being attacked in the market town of Birstall around 1pm GMT.
The “Vote Leave” and “Remain” groups campaigning for the June 23 referendum on Britain’s future in the European Union suspended their campaign for the day after the attack. MPs and others said they were shocked and shaken by the incident.
Sanjeev Kumar, a shop-owner near a library where Cox was meeting constituents, told BBC he heard of the incident from customers and went out to see Cox lying in a pool of blood on the pavement.
Other witnesses said they saw Cox being hit by a white man of medium height who was wearing a baseball cap and grey clothes. The MP was targeted after she became involved in an altercation between two arguing men, they said.
West Yorkshire police said: “At 12.53 today, police were called to a report of an incident on Market Street, Birstall, where a woman in her 40s had suffered serious injuries and is in a critical condition.
“A man in his late 40s to early 50s nearby also suffered slight injuries. Armed officers attended and a 52-year-old man was arrested in the area.”
Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said their thoughts were with her, while other shocked MPs hoped she would pull through.
It's right that all campaigning has been stopped after the terrible attack on Jo Cox. I won't go ahead with tonight's rally in Gibraltar.— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) June 16, 2016
Cox, a former aid worker with Oxfam, is married and has two children. She is an active member of parliamentary groups working on Palestine, Pakistan, Kashmir and Yorkshire’s regional economy.
“Oxfam is deeply shocked to hear the news. Our thoughts and sympathies are with Jo and her family at this difficult time,” said Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB’s chief executive.
The incident renewed concern over security for members of parliament, who regularly meet constituents in their local offices. Such attacks are rare in a country that has considerably less security for political respresentatives than India.