June 17, 2016 (LBO) – The fatal shooting on Thursday of a British Member of Parliament, Jo Cox, an advocate for the U.K. to remain in the European Union, has temporarily silenced the debate over membership in the EU.
All campaigning in the referendum was suspended after the first killing of a British member of Parliament in more than two decades. Cox, 41, was elected to the House of Commons last year and was a passionate supporter of EU membership, Bloomberg reported.
Prime Minister David Cameron was due to address a rally in favor of EU membership in Gibraltar. All that was abandoned as news of the attack came through.
The International Monetary Fund said it was delaying a planned release of reports on the implications of the U.K. leaving the EU, while the polling company BMG said it would delay a referendum poll due to be published on Friday by 24 hours.
The suspension of campaigning lifted the pound which fell in recent weeks as polls tightened.
Cox was killed outside the venue for one of her regular sessions at which constituents in the town of Birstall can seek advice and help.
Clarke Rothwell, an eyewitness to Cox’s killing, said he had seen a man shoot and then stab her. “The words I heard him say was ‘Britain First’ or ‘Put Britain First’,” Rothwell said in a BBC television interview. “He shouted it at least twice.”
The Press Association reported that Cox was shot twice and stabbed. Police said they had arrested a 52-year-old man and weren’t looking for anyone else.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his whole party is in shock.
“Jo had a lifelong record of public service and a deep commitment to humanity,” he said in a statement. “Jo died doing her public duty at the heart of our democracy, listening to and representing the people she was elected to serve.”
Guns are very tightly controlled in the U.K., and shootings are rare.