Sister of murdered British MP Jo Cox aims to contest by-election for her former seat

Vote in Batley and Spen will happen a month after the fifth anniversary of her death

Jo Cox was fatally stabbed and shot in June 2016, days before Britain's referendum on its membership of the European Union. Matt Dunham/ AP Photo
Jo Cox was fatally stabbed and shot in June 2016, days before Britain's referendum on its membership of the European Union. Matt Dunham/ AP Photo

The sister of British MP Jo Cox, who was murdered in a terrorist attack, is hoping to stand in a by-election in her former constituency.

Kim Leadbeater announced her wish to be considered as a Labour Party candidate ahead of the fifth anniversary of her sister's death.

Ms Cox was murdered by right-wing extremist Thomas Mair as she left her constituency office in Birstall, near Leeds, in the north of England in June 2016.

Cox, 41, was shot and stabbed to death a week before the 2016 Brexit referendum.

A by-election is expected in July for the Batley and Spen Valley seat after opposition Labour Party MP Tracy Brabin stepped down after her recent appointment as West Yorkshire mayor.

Ms Leadbeater, 44, said it would be an honour to "give the people of Batley and Spen the opportunity to put their trust in me".

“I care deeply about the area where I was born and have always lived, and where the people are second to none," she said.

“Through all the work I have done with Jo’s foundation over the past five years I have met so many truly fantastic people from across this area, some of them Labour, many not involved in party politics at all.

“This community picked me up when I needed it most and I will be forever grateful.”

The by-election is expected to be hotly contested on the back of the recent Hartlepool by-election in which Labour lost its seat for the first time to Boris Johnson's Conservatives.

The Batley and Spen seat has been held by Labour since 1997 and the party clung on by a slender majority of 3,525 votes at the last general election in 2019.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is already facing mounting pressure after defeat in Hartlepool and the loss of another "red wall" seat in a northern heartland would fuel criticism.

Ms Leadbeater will be considered among a number of potential Labour candidates by local members in the coming weeks.

George Galloway, who lost his Bradford West seat to Labour’s Naz Shah at the 2015 general election, announced his Workers Party of Britain would be putting forward a candidate as an alternative to Labour.

"The Workers Party GB will be contesting the Batley and Spen parliamentary by-election as the patriotic working-class alternative to #StarmerMustGo," he tweeted.

"We fought for Brexit we fought for the Union. We will fight to unite all communities, for the working people of all backgrounds."

Former Ukip candidate Aleks Lukic announced his Heavy Woollen District Independents party would also field a candidate.

He said his party, which received 12.2 per cent of the vote in 2019, would "openly discuss sensitive issues".

"We take the position that religious and cultural beliefs must remain open to challenge and debate in a democratic society," he wrote on the party's webpage.

"We condemn hatred against any religion or race without exception."

The area faced problems with racial tensions in recent years.

Last month, a schoolteacher was suspended after showing pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed during a lesson, leading to protests from the community outside the school gates.

An independent investigation into the incident is due to report at the end of the month.

Updated: May 24, 2021 12:53 PM

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