Brexit campaigning has been suspended after a British politician was shot and stabbed

Labour MP Jo Cox.
Labour MP Jo Cox.
Image: Yui Mok/Press Association/Handout via Reuters
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Update: Cox has died from her wounds Her death was confirmed by the West Yorkshire police. Follow Quartz’s coverage here.


A British politician is in a critical condition after a man shot and stabbed her during a public event in Yorkshire, northern England.

Jo Cox, a Labour MP, was holding an advice session with locals at a library in Birstall, near Leeds.

The attacker was a 52-year-old man who is now in custody, police said. Another man near the scene was injured.

The motive for the attack is unclear. Police are investigating eyewitness reports that the assailant shouted “Britain First!” before attacking her.

“He was shouting ‘Britain First’ when he was doing it and being arrested,” eyewitness Graeme Howard told the Guardian. “He was pinned down by two police officers and she was taken away in an ambulance.”

If the Britain First allegation is confirmed, it suggests the attacker was allied with a far-right political party that also bills itself as a “street defence organization.”

The group has previously threatened “militant direct action” against London mayor Sadiq Khan,  saying it considers “all Muslim elected officials” to be “occupiers.”

Cox, a 41-year-old mother of two, was elected to parliament last year. She was once head of policy for Oxfam, and founded the All Party Parliamentary Group on Friends of Syria after she took office.

Politicians have expressed their shock at the news:

With less than a week to go before Britons vote in a referendum on EU membership, both sides of the campaign announced that they would suspend their operations for the day.

The UK has strict laws regulating firearms. All handguns were outlawed following the massacre at Dunblane Primary School in 1996—one of the worst mass shootings in the country—and registration is compulsory for shotgun owners. Semi-automatic firearms were outlawed in 1988, also in response to a mass shooting in an English town.