Last week the “Leave” campaign was routing the “Remain” camp, as poll after poll showed British voters were stampeding in favor of exiting the European Union, in the upcoming “Brexit” referendum. Will the assassination of Jo Cox, a British member of Parliament and a high-profile campaigner for the Remain side, turn out to be the crucial event that stops and reverses that trend? Initially, polls seemed to be showing movement in that direction, but there are also indications that, following initial reaction to the tragic killing, the Leave momentum may recover by the June 23 vote date.
Mrs. Cox, 41 and the mother of two young children, was stabbed and shot to death on the street in Birstall, West Yorkshire, England, outside of a library where she was scheduled to meet with constituents. She was a fresh face on the political scene, having only recently been elected, but she had quickly been seen as an up-and-coming, articulate political voice for the liberal-left. The alleged assassin, 52-year-old Thomas Mair, who was arrested at the scene of the crime, apparently has a history of mental illness, and, reportedly, went to a therapy center the night before the crime seeking treatment for depression.That therapy center, according to a report in TheTelegraph, is only 300 yards from the spot where the murder took place.
The Remain camp, including the leading politicians from all the establishment parties as well as the British “mainstream” press, wasted no time in exploiting the tragic event, holding up Cox as a martyr for the cause of “unity and tolerance” and lambasting proponents of Brexit as sharing responsibility with Mair by promoting a climate of “hate,” “intolerance,” “division,” and “xenophobia.” The pro-EU media have also seized on the alleged ties of Mair to “rightwing extremists.” However, in typical fashion, these same media reports fail to define their terms and neglect to mention that the neo-Nazi groups they cite are national socialists, and therefore, have much more in common with the Left than the “Right.” Mair also, allegedly, yelled "Britain first, keep Britain independent,” as he stabbed Cox, according to some news reports, although this has been disputed by various witnesses. During his court hearing in Westminster on Saturday, Mair was asked to state his name. He replied: “My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain." This was enough for the Remain camp to place the blame for the murder on the backs of Brexit supporters. The Leave side is being charged with setting a “dangerous tone” and sounding an “angry” theme that is responsible for causing the psychologically unstable, such as Mr. Mair, to take extreme action.
One of the primary targets of the media blame game is the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which has been the leading force behind the Brexit. As it turned out, on the morning of the Cox assassination, UKIP had unveiled a new billboard campaign entitled “Breaking Point,” featuring an image of UKIP leader Nigel Farage in front of a giant photo showing a massive stream of thousands of migrants flooding into Europe last year. The billboard proclaims, “The EU has failed us all,” and calls on Britons to “break free of the EU and take back control” of Britain’s borders.
Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne called the UKIP billboard “vile” and compared it to Nazi propaganda of the 1930s. Osborne is an ardent globalist, and along with Prime Minister David Cameron, is a leading Conservative Party opponent of the Brexit. In an ITV interview on Sunday, he accused UKIP of “whipping up division, making baseless assertions that millions of people are going to come into the country in the next couple of years from Turkey, or saying that dead bodies are going to wash up on the beaches of Kent — or, indeed, putting up that disgusting and vile poster that Nigel Farage did which had echoes of literature used in the 1930s.”
Farage totally rejected Osborne’s charge of stoking up hatred, responding that, on the contrary, it is he, the UKIP, and the Brexit campaign that are being, and have been, subjected to the real campaign of hate. “I think I have been a politician who has been a victim of it, to be honest with you,” he told ITV interviewer Robert Peston.
“When you challenge the establishment in this country, they come after you, they call you all sorts of things,” Farage said. “We saw the Chancellor a few minutes ago — despite the fact that overnight he talked about turning down the rhetoric — doing the same thing again.”
The UKIP issued the following press statement on the murder:
The murder of Jo Cox MP has shocked us all deeply. She was clearly a highly talented and dedicated campaigner and a hugely popular Member of Parliament with a bright future ahead of her. Her death is an appalling and inexplicable tragedy.
Jo was a committed campaigner for Remain, a reminder that as a nation we have an important democratic decision to make in five days’ time.
Allegedly the assailant said ‘Britain first’ or ‘Put Britain first’ during the attack. It is hard to imagine an act less in keeping with the sentiment, less appropriate to the Britain we value; but madness knows no truth.
George Igler, head of the Discourse Institute, told Breitbart News Daily that the Remain campaign have been trying to exploit the tragic death of Labour MP Jo Cox in order to silence the Leave campaign and “tie their hands behind their back” on immigration.
Defending the much-criticized poster, Mr Igler said it was “an accurate depiction of the facts” and is exactly “what happened to Europe” at the height of the migrant crisis last year. He also pointed out the poster was released “something like an hour before this poor woman died.”
“There’s no way her murderer could have even seen it let alone be motivated by it,” Igler added, noting the Remains and their allied media are seeking to “exploit” the killing because “this argument about mass immigration and this being the only vote Britain will get on the subject, it was working.”
“Cui Bono?” — Who Benefits From Cox Murder?
Far from helping the Leave campaign, the Cox assassination, as noted above, has delivered a sympathy boost to the Remain side and has handed them a huge club with which to hammer Brexit advocates. The headline for a story at the pro-EU website EurActiv.com, on the day of the Cox murder, stated the obvious: “Jo Cox murder seen as boosting Britain’s pro-EU campaign.”
“This will hurt the momentum of the Leave campaign, which has been gaining steadily in recent polls,” Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at the Eurasia Group consulting firm, told EurActive. “According to Rahman, the murder of Jo Cox will also ‘allow British Prime Minister David Cameron an opportunity to act like a statesman and retrieve the agenda, something he has lost over the last week,’” EurActive reported.
“We did have momentum until this terrible tragedy,” Farage told ITV. “'When you are taking on the establishment, you need to have momentum. I don't know what's going to happen over the course of the next three to four days, but [this was] the action of one person with serious mental issues. What we saw was an act of terrorism.”
However, the heavy-handed exploitation of Cox’s death by Prime Minister Cameron, Osborne, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and their anti-Brexit media allies may have gone too far for voters. When Cameron appeared before a live BBC TV audience on Sunday night, for his last chance to address the Brexit referendum, it was clear that voters in the audience were not cowed into silence by the way he and the media had played the Cox assassination. Cameron was challenged with spirited questions from voters, who accused him of being a Neville Chamberlain in the face of a bullying EU, and called him on “scaremongering” over the supposed dangers of leaving the EU.
The Brexit referendum, which will take place this Thursday, is still too close to call, as a number of polls taken since the Cox murder are showing.
Photo showing Member of Parliament Jo Cox: AP Images
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