On Monday I was in Westminster Hall to argue the case for the UK to continue to devote 0.7% of our national income to funding overseas aid. I spoke of the huge impact programmes to tackle climate change can have in the developing world, helping to prevent not only flooding but famine, migration and so much more.
It is an issue I know my dear friend and colleague Jo Cox cared deeply about. As a former aid worker who had travelled the world to campaign against poverty and discrimination, she was a passionate and knowledgeable voice in Westminster. It is hard to believe that such an incredible woman is no longer with us, murdered on Thursday for doing the job she loved in the place she loved.
Jo’s absence will be a devastating loss to Parliament, but most of all to her family who have lost a wife, a mother, a daughter. My thoughts and prayers are with them all.
In celebration and memory of Jo, her family have chosen three charities that were close to her heart: The Royal Voluntary Service, to support volunteers helping combat loneliness in Jo’s constituency, Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire; HOPE not hate, who seek to challenge and defeat the politics of hate and extremism within local communities across Britain; The White Helmets: volunteer search and rescue workers in Syria.
As I write this, over £800,000 has already been raised. Should you wish, you can donate at https://www.gofundme.com/jocox
In Hornsey & Wood Green, Songworks organised a moving vigil to commemorate both Jo and the victims of the Orlando massacre outside Hornsey Town Hall on Sunday afternoon. So many people attended and we were able to join together to pay our respects and stand united in our efforts to fight hate.
I will be returning to Parliament on Monday as it has been recalled so we can come together to remember and pay tribute to our dear colleague and much-loved friend. Thank you for the many kind messages of support and condolence I’ve received since Thursday, which have been much appreciated.