Kim Leadbetter, sister of murdered MP Jo Cox, pays emotional tribute in maiden speech

THE SISTER of murdered MP Jo Cox has paid tribute to her during her first speech in the Commons.

Kim Leadbetter, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was elected three months ago in a by-election, taking the seat once held by Ms Cox. 

The MP was speaking during a debate on the legacy of Ms Cox, and admitted she would give “literally anything not to be standing here”.

She said: “I hope members will understand that I mean no disrespect to this place when I say that I would give literally anything, not to be standing here today in her place.”

She described the former MP as “the best big sister anybody could wish for” and added: “We have heard already what an extraordinary contribution Jo made to politics in the tragically short time that she sat on these benches.

“The love and respect she earned across this chamber is a testament to the very special qualities she brought to the job and the kind of person she was.”

Ms Leadbetter, whose parents watched from the Commons gallery as she spoke, continued: “Others are better qualified than I am to reflect on her talents as a parliamentarian. And for me, she will always be many other things before an MP – a compassionate and caring humanitarian, a proud Yorkshire lass, a friend to many – including a significant number of those who are sat here today”.

She said her sister had been “a loving daughter, a fantastic sister-in law and wife, an outstanding mum to Cuillin and Lejla – who remain full of Jo’s energy, optimism and spirit – and the best big sister anybody could wish for.”

Ms Leadbetter said her sister’s murder had “ripped the heart” out of her family, and pledged to honour her memory in her new role as the MP for the same constituency as her sister once represented.

Other MPs also paid tribute to the MP who was murdered in June 2016, just a year after her election.

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat was among them. He said that MPs in different parties were opponents, not enemies, and urged politicians to come together.

He said Ms Cox had brought “extraordinary passion” which had “returned” to the Commons with the election of her sister.

He said his murder was a “terrible moment” for many MPs, and said: “ My terrible moment was phoning her number many times and sadly, like everyone else, getting no answer.”

The conservative MP went on to say that MPs should remember the purpose of the houses of parliament, adding: “It’s too easy to think of it as a place for soundbites and video clips, as a place where we pass a quick bill or make a cheap point.

“What this place is for is to have the fights that a democracy needs to have, and the arguments that free people need to express, respectfully but to challenge each other. “

“It is hard to remember when too often the accusations are of immortality, of deceit.”

Thomas Mair, 53, was found guilty of the murder of Ms Cox and sentenced to life in prison. 

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992