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Referendum campaigning suspended after pro-EU MP dies in attack

Britain EU Referendum Updated: Jun 21, 2016 14:23 IST
EU referendum

A police officer stands outside the home of a man who was arrested after Labour MP Jo Cox was attacked in her constituency near Leeds.(REUTERS)

Campaigning for next week’s EU referendum in Britain was suspended on Thursday after a pro-European lawmaker was reportedly shot and stabbed in her constituency in northern England.

Jo Cox, 41, a mother-of-two who represented the opposition Labour party, was left bleeding on the pavement after the incident in Birstall in Yorkshire, the Press Association cited an eyewitness as saying. She later died at a hospital.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Twitter that he was “utterly shocked by the news of the attack on Jo Cox. The thoughts of the whole Labour party are with her and her family at this time”.

Cox, who was elected for the first time last year, was a supporter of Britain staying in the EU in the referendum on June 23, although it was not clear if the attack had anything to do with the campaign.

Sky News television quoted unconfirmed reports from witnesses that the shooter shouted “Britain first” -- possibly a reference to British sovereignty, although there is also a far-right party called Britain First.

Both sides of the referendum race announced they would stop campaigning for the rest of Thursday.

“We are suspending all campaigning for the day. Our thoughts are with Jo Cox and her family,” the official Stronger In Europe campaign said on Twitter.

A spokesperson for the rival Vote Leave group, which is backing a so-called Brexit, said that their ‘battle bus’ had stopped campaigning for the day.

“The battle bus that Boris was on is turning back to London,” he told AFP, referring to lead campaigner Boris Johnson, the Conservative former mayor of London.

The Daily Telegraph reported Johnson as describing news of the attack as “absolutely horrific”.