Floral tribute to Jo Cox ready to set sail on Thames from her home at Wapping
PUBLISHED: 13:01 22 June 2016 | UPDATED: 13:16 22 June 2016
The dockside community of east London is sending its floral tribute up the Thames to Westminster at 2pm today for the mass rally at Trafalgar Square for MP Jo Cox starting at 4pm.
A small launch is carrying hundreds of flowers on what would have been her 42nd birthday today from Hermitage Moorings at Wapping, near Tower Bridge, where she lived with her husband Brendan and their children, three-year-old daughter Lejla and five-year-old son Cuillin.
It is a tribute from her neighbours, the boat-owners, and the people of the East End among whom the Yorkshire-born mother-of-two had made her home.
“She had a zest for life and an enthusiasm that was infectious,” Brendan said. “She was completely impractical, always late for everything, this incredibly human, warm person who cared about people on an individual level with no airs and graces, very much wanting to make a difference.”
Jo was brutally killed when she was stabbed and shot last Thursday in her Yorkshire home town of Birstall which she represented in Parliament for just 13 months after winning her seat in last year’s General Election.
“Jo struggled with some elements of being an MP,” Brendan revealed.
“She hated the abuse, that people made judgments about her without knowing her, the polarisation.
“But she actually loved being an MP because it enabled her to make a difference at an international level and also to help people on a personal, individual level—she just wanted to make the world a better place.”
Jo Cox would have voted for Britain to remain in the EU in tomorrow’s referendum, he revealed, to build more common understanding and compassion to “dial down some of the rhetoric and the hatred” and just bring communities together.
But she was worried about the tone of the EU debate amid prophetic concerns that it was “whipping up fears and hatred”.
Despite the political pressures, Jo Cox was a caring mother. Brendan wanted to preserve the personal memory of his wife for Cuillin and Lejla.
“She was also their mum,” he added. “I want to protect the personal memory as well as the more political memory and the symbolism that she has taken on.”
Jo had supported small Docklands enterprises before entering politics, like Laura Henson’s 44 Frock Shop pop-up business that opened in Wapping in 2011 selling low-price dresses by top designers while serving up tea and treats to customers.
She often pooped in to the shop and had tea with the staff while her little boy who was nearly a year old played on the carpet.
Now Brendan hopes his family’s grief at Jo’s violent death brings people together, that it changes the way they think about politics and how to “engage with each other and how to treat people”.