Leader of Remain campaign criticised over Jo Cox death comments

Posted On: 
21st June 2016

The leader of the Remain campaign has been criticised for urging supporters to “call out” the Brexit side in the wake of Jo Cox’s death for pushing “division and resentment”.

The executive director of Britain Stronger In Europe said in a personal phonecall: “We need to recognise that people have been pulled up short by Jo Cox’s death.”
Credit: 
PA Images

Will Straw, the executive director of Britain Stronger In Europe, fed activists a new closing argument for the final days of the campaign for the “new context that we’re in” following the tragedy.

In a phone call, leaked to the Guido Fawkes website, he said: “We need to recognise that people have been pulled up short by Jo Cox’s death...

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“It is now time to make a very positive case for why we want to be in the European Union to… set out the risks that we face if we leave, but to call out the other side for what they have done to stir division and resentment in the UK.”

Following the leaked comments, Mr Straw has been at the centre of a row after eurosceptics accused him of using the death for political gain.

Andrew Bridgen, a pro-Brexit Conservative MP, said: “I thought that the Remain campaign had plumbed the depths of political campaigning but this is the pits. How low can they go?”

Suzanne Evans, the former Ukip deputy chairman, said: “It is the most cynical thing you can do to use the horrific murder of a young mother and much loved MP to try and portray a group of people who had nothing whatsoever to do with it as being effectively one step removed from the murderer. Horrific. Absolutely horrific.”

A spokesman for Britain Stronger in Europe said: “As a close personal friend of Jo Cox, Will Straw was reflecting on the changed circumstances following the tragic murder of an inspirational public servant.

“Unfortunately, everyone in this campaign – whether they are from the Remain or Leave camp – are now conducting the last few days of it in the shadow of that awful crime.

“Given that, it would have been strange for Will’s campaign call with volunteers to not reflect on the wider environment.”