Burnley’s Labour MP Julie Cooper and former MP Kitty Ussher have paid an emotional tribute to their close friend Jo Cox, the Yorkshire MP shot dead in her constituency last week.
Mrs Ussher, who was Burnley’s MP from 2005 to 2010, was a good friend of Mrs Cox, MP for Batley and Spen, who she had known for nearly 20 years.
An emotional Mrs Ussher said: “I am feeling desperate and angry. Jo and I had been friends since we were in our 20s.
“I first met her when we were working for a pro-European campaign movement. We struck up a good friedship. We holidayed together and went to each other’s weddings.
“Jo was an important symbol, and she was murdered because she was an MP which is so wrong. I actually discouraged her from becoming an MP but it was inevitable when her home seat came up.
“Politics is about empathising our common humanity. It should be about hope not hate. We all need to be on the side of hope.”
The level of hate towards MPs at the moment is shocking. I myself receive some very nasty emails and correspondenceJulie Cooper
Away from politics, Mrs Ussher described her friend as a lover of the outdoors and adventure.
She added: “Jo was great fun, very honest, very natural and full of life. She was physically very fit and loved climbing mountains with her husband.”
Burnley MP Julie Cooper was elected at the same time as Jo Cox and was often photographed alongside her.
She closed her office on Friday as a mark of respect.
Mrs Cooper said: “Jo and I were elected together. We were very much a team of lady MPs. Her death is an absolute tragedy. She was not just a colleague, but a friend.
“This is a shocking event and I just hope it makes people think more deeply that MPs are people too, with families, doing the job they’ve been elected to do.
“The level of hate towards MPs at the moment is shocking. I myself receive some very nasty emails and correspondence.
“I hope that in the future we can have reasoned debate without the need to be verbally and physically abusive.
“Jo was an absolute star, she had a great sense of humour and was devoted to her job and her family.
“She never had a bad word to say about anybody.”