Thames dockside community pays tribute to MP Jo Cox with flowers on her houseboat at Wapping
PUBLISHED: 13:28 17 June 2016 | UPDATED: 15:54 17 June 2016
Hundreds of flowers strewn the deck of MP Jo Cox's houseboat on the Thames at Wapping's Hermitage Moorings following her violent death.
The close-knit community was in shock today following her killing in Yorkshire, where she was shot and stabbed after holding a local constituency surgery yesterday.
The 41-year-old mother was elected to Parliament for the first time at last year’s General Election for her hometown of Birstall.
But Jo had also set down roots at Wapping in London’s East End, living for several years on a houseboat where she raised two boys with her husband Brenan and was active in running the Hermitage Moorings cooperative where they lived.
Brendan said in a statement: “She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now—that our precious children are bathed in love and that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion—it is poisonous.”
The Cox family’s neighbour Anne Wainwright, living on a houseboat alongside theirs, was in tears as she described Jo as “amazing, wonderful and spirited member of this community”.
She said: “Jo was a beacon of hope who believed in love, friendship and values that we all so much need at this time.”
Hundreds of little candles lined the pier moorings just half-a-mile from Tower Bridge. Wellwishers have been arriving to sign the condolence book left open at the pier office.
One from Robin of Bristol reads: “You have left a world that has changed by your humanity and empathy for the plight of others.”
Another says: “From one mother to another—may your joy live on through your children. Kelly.”
The community in this Thames-side former dockland neighbourhood was sharing its grief today with the people of Jo’s home town of Birsall.
Her houseboat neighbours paid their own tribute to her on the Hermitage Moorings’ website, which says: “Today is the saddest day of this close community. We have lost a dear, dear friend in the most tragic and outrageous circumstances. Our community will continue to be inspired by her relentless energy and the commitment to all that is good.”
She had supported small docklands enterprises before entering politics, like Laura Henson’s 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.
One resident involved in the enterprise was Vickie Flores, who told the East London Advertiser today: “I first met Jo five years ago with her first son Culin when she often came into the shop.
“She’d just became a full-time mum and came to support the shop and drank tea with us and brought the little boy in who played on the carpet. She helped Laura and me and was positive and exited for us, promoting the shop.
“She was the kind of person who everyone knew—we’re all in shock.”
Jo worked in a toothpaste factory in Yorkshire with her dad at weekends when she left school before she went to university. But her background was far from the Cambridge undergraduates she was to study with.
“Her background was very working class,” Vickie added. “She told me she had a shock when she went to Cambridge because of the social difference, but could get on with them—it was never going to hold her back.”
Jo’s death means a by-election in the Batley and Spen constituency that she won for Labour a year ago. The Conservative Party will not contest the by-election resulting from her violent death, Downing Street has announced.
Labour’s Jim Fitzpatrick, whose Poplar & Limehouse constituency includes Wapping, says all MPs know the risk of public life.
He told the Advertiser: “Anyone on public service—police, doctors, MPs—is exposed to the risk of individuals blaming them for their difficulties in life. We have to remain accessible to the public and just be vigilant.”
He added: “It is a decent gesture from the Prime Minister not to contest the by-election. It’s tragic that she’s been taken from all of us.”
Jo Cox was key in setting up the all-party committee of MPs on Syria to help the refugees, despite only having entered Parliament just 13 months ago.