Brussels square named after murdered UK MP

Brussels square named after murdered UK MP

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BRUSSELS: A small square in the heart of Brussels has been named in memory of murdered British MP Jo Cox.

Right-wing extremist Thomas Mair attacked Mrs Cox, 41, in her constituency in West Yorkshire in the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum.

Family, friends and politicians gathered for a ceremony in the square on Thursday.

“Jo Cox lived every day as if it was her last,” said the Mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close.

“She should never have died for her ideas.”

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn also attended the ceremony and paid tribute to the former Labour MP for Batley and Spen.

Naming the square after her was a “wonderful gesture” by a city whose “spirit, music and internationalism” Jo Cox had loved, he said.

Remembering six years in Brussels

Brussels decided to honour Cox as part of a project to name around 30 streets in the city centre after famous women.

She had worked in the Belgian capital for around six years, first as an assistant to ex-Euro MP Glenys Kinnock and then for Oxfam, where she became the head of the charity’s EU office.

Her sister Kim Leadbeater said: “My memories of her at that time are of chocolate, beer and dancing, but it was a very important time for her career as well.

“The reality is that the world moves on but as a family we cannot do that, so it’s really comforting when people come together to remember Jo and the values she believed in.”

“Jo was very pro-European and keen for us to stay in the EU,” she said.

Wearing a white rose at the ceremony, Ms Leadbeater said when her sister became an MP, she had reassured her family it would not affect their lives.

She told the 150-strong crowd that those words were still ringing in her ears.

The square, which previously had no name, is tucked away behind Ancienne Belgique, a concert venue in central Brussels where Cox, known then by her maiden name Jo Leadbeater, used to enjoy live music.

Her friend Joanna Maycock said: “We saw Oasis there and I definitely remember seeing Coldplay with her because she was a big fan and I wasn’t.

“The square is in the heart of the LGBT quarter, which speaks to Jo’s values of open-mindedness and equality. We hope it will breathe new life into this little corner of Brussels.”

During the ceremony, politicians pledged to fight for the values of openness, social progress and tolerance which she had championed.

Stephen Kinnock, a Labour MP who became friends with Cox while they were both working in the capital in the late 1990s, spoke of her as a “ball of energy”.

“She was great to have drinks with and had a great sense of humour. I’d always see her in a big group of people of different nationalities,” the Aberavon MP told the BBC from the UK.

In May 2017, the French Burgundy town of Avallon named a street Rue Jo Cox.

“It would be a fitting tribute to her were there to be something similar in the UK,” said Mr Kinnock.__BBC

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