Earlier today Jo Cox, the Labour Party Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen was attacked in the street by a man yelling “Britain First!” Ms. Cox was stabbed and then shot in the street and ultimately succumbed to her wounds. The leaders of the movement behind the British Exit (Brexit) from the EU campaign, the motto of which is “Britain First!”, quickly moved to distance themselves from this act of terrorism. While they are not immediately/personally responsible for the attack on Ms. Cox, it will remain to be seen how much fallout they will face because their professional rhetoric and activities helped to set the conditions for an attack like this to take place.
The investigation into the man who assassinated Ms. Cox is underway and the information is currently fluid, so the usual 48-96 hour caveats on information need to be kept in mind. Dr. David Brockington – an expatriate American who is a professor in England – posted an excellent analytical piece this morning at Lawyers, Guns, and Money about the likelihood of the Brexit one week out from the referendum. The effect of today’s political assassination on the Brexit vote are likely to be significant and they may not be possible to measure them adequately or accurately before the actual vote next week. It will depend on how healthy Britain’s civil space actually is right now and the resilience of the British grey zone to withstand this type of pressure.