Sister of killed MP Jo Cox calls for 'strength and solidarity'


The sister of MP Jo Cox has called for people to show "strength and solidarity" after her death as a memorial fund passed its £500,000 target.

Kim Leadbeater told crowds gathered in Birstall, West Yorkshire, on Saturday that they should "focus on that which unites us and not which divides us" as part of her sister's legacy.

Mrs Cox's family visited the town where she was killed hours after a 52-year-old man appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court, London, charged with her murder, and gave his name as "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain".

Ms Leadbeater, parents Gordon and Jean Leadbeater, and other family members viewed the hundreds of floral tributes and messages left to the Batley and Spen MP since her death on Thursday.

They embraced as they looked at the flowers in Birstall marketplace, metres away from where she was shot and stabbed in the street outside her constituency surgery.

Ms Leadbeater said her sister was positive in the face of abuse on social media and urged people to continue to speak out as they had since her death.

She said: "Over the last 48 hours, people have not been silent. They have been vocal and passionate and have spoken from the heart. Genuine emotion with no hidden agenda. Jo would have loved it.

"We have to continue this strength and solidarity for the days, months and years to come as part of Jo's legacy. To focus on that which unites us and not which divides us."

Ms Leadbeater described her sister as "perfect" and said she would never be forgotten.

She said: "For now our family is broken, but it will mend in time and we will never let Jo leave our lives.

"She will live on through all the good people in the world, through (husband) Brendan, through us and through her truly wonderful children, who will always know what an utterly amazing woman their mother was.

"She was a human being. She was perfect."

Thousands of people have paid tribute to Mrs Cox, with more than £500,000 raised for charities she supported.

The charities chosen by Mrs Cox's friends and family represent her campaigns as an MP to help civilians caught up in the Syrian war, to fight racism and extremism in Britain, and to help residents in her Batley and Spen constituency in West Yorkshire.

Prayers are expected to be said for Mrs Cox at church services across the country on Sunday.

St Peter's Church, Birstall, said on its Facebook page: "We expect that we might be joined by a number of visitors as we will be responding to the sudden tragic death of Jo Cox, our MP."

Thomas Mair, from Birstall, appeared in court on Saturday charged with Mrs Cox's murder, grievous bodily harm against a pensioner who tried to help her, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence and possession of a knife.

He was remanded in custody until his next appearance, a bail application at the Old Bailey on Monday.