Jo Cox’s death “should not drive wedge between MPs and public”

Rachel Reeves.
Rachel Reeves.

Friend Rachel Reeves MP said the last thing Jo Cox would have wanted is to see MPs cut off from their constituents.

The former shadow work and pensions secretary said MPs need to review their security in light of Mrs Cox’s death but her late friend was passionate about politicians getting out in their patch and meeting the public.

Mrs Reeves, MP for Leeds West, said she has cancelled all campaigning for the Remain side of the EU referendum in Armley and Kirkstall until Sunday morning. She has also closed her office temporarily.

She said: “The focus is on Jo. Some people will start work again tomorrow. I will start again on Sunday.”

Mrs Reeves has known Mrs Cox’s husband Brendan for 20 years and Jo for a decade.

She said: “She shadowed me for a day when she was thinking about becoming an MP in Leeds in 2012 and she was just superb. She had a real connection with people.”

For the first time in her Parliamentary career Mrs Reeves said she has considered vulnerability as an MP.

She said: “We will have to take advice but I feel very strongly that what made Jo such a good MP was that she was available to her constituents. If we were just in a Westminster office we would not be doing our jobs.

“We are there to serve our communities and I don’t think that if this man and his actions should drive a wedge between MPs and their constituents.

“I’m determined on that.”

She said the 2010 non-fatal stabbing of Stephen Timms, Labour MP for East Ham, had shaken politicians however the murder of Mrs Cox means politicians will have to think again about how they protect themselves.

She said: “We are going to continue to do the job that we are elected to do. Obviously we are going to have to be a little bit more mindful of our personal safety because we have all got responsibilities as parents and family and to take care of our staff.”

Asked if she has given much consideration to her own safety as a public figure in the past, she said: “I never have.”

“With Stephen we thought it was a one off. We think now we should have a think about how we do our surgeries. You think about these things but you never do anything about it - you just get on with the job. The police will just have to give us guidance I guess.”

Fellow Yorkshire MP Dan Jarvis said first and foremost colleagues are thinking about her husband, children and family.

Security will be dealt with at another time, he said, however he is certain that politicians will want to tighten up their arrangements.

He said: “Inevitably all members of Parliament will now review security of their offices, their staff and themselves and it’s right that they do that. Obviously we don’t know the full circumstances. What happened to Jo will emerge over time but in the short term colleagues will want to look very seriously about how they keep their members of staff safe.”