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A British lawmaker was murdered by a far-right extremist three years ago. Now British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is using her murder to push through Brexit as quickly as possible.
On Wednesday, members of parliament from the Labor Party expressed concern that his inflammatory language would fuel violence, which he called “humbug.” He also said the best way to honor late member of parliament Jo Cox would be to “get Brexit done,” because of her pro-European Union stance.
Cox, who was a member of the Labor Party, was murdered in 2016 by a man who shouted “Britain first” as he both shot in stabbed her, presumably over her political views.
It’s that same language–“surrender”, “traitor,” and “betrayal”–that Tracy Brabin, who now holds Cox’s seat, was asking Johnson to refrain from using.
Multiple members of parliament have allegedly received death threats from people who directly quote Johnson.
When asked why Johnson believed that pushing Brexit through would honor Cox, he said, “I believe that the continuing failure to deliver on the mandate of the people has greatly exacerbated feelings and the best way to reduce that tension is to get it done. Then the whole country can move on.”
Labour's Tracy Brabin raises the murder of Jo Cox with the PM, pleading that he "moderate his language so that we will all feel secure when we're going about our jobs"— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) September 25, 2019
PM: "The best way to honour the memory of Jo Cox... would be to get Brexit done"https://t.co/Y0d9CejxyE pic.twitter.com/oE1lfRVuk3
Cox’s husband, Brendan Cox, has since released a statement on Twitter.
“Feel a bit sick at Jo’s name being used in this way. The best way to honour Jo is for all of us (no matter our views) to stand up for what we believe in, passionately and with determination. But never to demonise the other side and always hold onto what we have in common,” Cox wrote on Thursday.
Feel a bit sick at Jo’s name being used in this way. The best way to honour Jo is for all of us (no matter our views) to stand up for what we believe in, passionately and with determination. But never to demonise the other side and always hold onto what we have in common.— Brendan Cox (@MrBrendanCox) September 25, 2019
Even Johnson’s sister, Rachel Johnson, condemned Johnson’s “tasteless” and “reprehensible” remarks, making her the second sibling of Johnson to publicly oppose his conduct on his route to Brexit.
The prime minister's sister, Rachel Johnson, has said it was "tasteless" to say the best way to honour Jo Cox's murder is to deliver what she had campaigned against.— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 26, 2019
Read more: https://t.co/siPGb217U7 pic.twitter.com/5KEZx7nzSW
On Thursday, MP Jess Phillips called for Johnson to apologize for his “appalling” statements (a man screaming “facist” later attempted to break into her office).
"I want to ask the prime minister to apologise and to tell him that the bravest, strongest thing to say is sorry."— Sky News Politics (@SkyNewsPolitics) September 26, 2019
Labour MP @jessphillips says it was "appalling" for @BorisJohnson to describe Jo Cox's murder as 'humbug'.
Follow live updates: https://t.co/s5e9MwOSNo pic.twitter.com/q0sEUl78Y0
Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org