It’s hard to find the words sometimes; language falls short. Today is one of those days. Yesterday the UK lost a committed, caring and principled politician. Two young children will now grow up without a loving mother.
In the aftermath of such senseless violence on a quiet village street in West Yorkshire, so many questions remain unanswered. Why and how and why and where: where do we go from here?
Labour MP Jo Cox died after being shot three times in the street, in her constituency of Birstall, doing what she loved. This morning, former Labour leader Lord Kinnock called Jo Cox "a day-star". Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, described her as "a fearless campaigner." She shone out because she wanted to make it count.
In the words of her husband Brendan Cox, in a powerful statement after her death:
“Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people.”
Here at InStyle UK, we won’t struggle to find words to do justice to Jo Cox and her incredible work. Instead, we’d like to remember the Labour MP in her own words with a passionate speech she made earlier this year, urging the government to bring 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees to the UK.
Jo Cox campaigned tirelessly for refugees and spent ten years working in the most dangerous conflict zones. Following the news of her tragic death, many are now sharing these words again:
"We all know that the vast majority of the terrified, friendless and profoundly vulnerable child refugees scattered across Europe tonight came from Syria. We also know that, as that conflict enters its sixth barbaric year, desperate Syrian families are being forced to make an impossible decision: stay and face starvation, rape, persecution and death, or make a perilous journey to find sanctuary elsewhere.
Who can blame desperate parents for wanting to escape the horror that their families are experiencing? Children are being killed on their way to school, children as young as seven are being forcefully recruited to the frontline and one in three children have grown up knowing nothing but fear and war. Those children have been exposed to things no child should ever witness, and I know I would risk life and limb to get my two precious babies out of that hellhole.
I am deeply proud of the government for leading the way internationally on providing humanitarian support to Syrian civilians. Their commitment in terms of finances and policy to help people in the region, and across the middle east and north Africa, will save lives. However, in the chaos caused by the Syrian conflict and many other conflicts, many thousands of already deeply scarred children have become separated from their parents and carers, and they are already in Europe.
The government's generosity to date has not extended to those vulnerable children.We know that identifying the exact number of unaccompanied minors is difficult, but the latest estimates suggest that there could be up to 95,000 such children in Europe tonight – four times the number we thought. That means that, if we decide tonight to take 3,000 of them, that will be just 3% of the total. That is our continent's challenge, and we must rise to it.
I recognize that this is not easy, but tonight we are being asked to make a decision that transcends party politics. Any member who has seen the desperation and fear on the faces of children trapped in inhospitable camps across Europe must surely feel compelled to act. I urge them tonight to be brave and bold, and I applaud the honorable and learned member for Sleaford and North Hykeham [Stephen Phillips] for an incredibly principled, personal speech.In the shanty towns of Calais and Dunkirk, the aid workers I spent a decade with on the frontline as an aid worker myself, tell me that the children there face some of the most horrific circumstances in the world.
Surely we have to do the right thing tonight and support the Dubs amendment."