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Jo Cox's Sister Says We Must "Focus On That Which Unites Us, And Not Which Divides Us"

Kim Leadbeater thanked members of the public for the support given to her family, in a heartbreaking speech in Birstall on Saturday, following the death of her sister, MP Jo Cox, on Thursday.

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The sister of killed MP Jo Cox has called upon members of the public to "continue this strength and solidarity," and focus on "that which unites us, and not which divides us," in a moving speech on Saturday.

Cox was killed on Thursday in Birstall, near Leeds, in her West Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen.

Her sister, Kim Leadbeater, was joined by their parents when she formally offered her thanks to the thousands of people who have expressed their condolences following Cox's death on Thursday.

Before beginning her address, Leadbetter noted that the outpouring of grief in the small market town had been amazing. "Proper Yorkshire people," she said. "Absolutely beautiful."

Speaking on behalf of her family, Leadbeater said that they were usually very private, something that Cox had respected during her time as an MP, but that "I
could not continue to watch the overwhelming outpouring of genuine grief,
sympathy and love that there has been since this horrendous incident occurred
without speaking on behalf of Jo’s family."

She added that the warmth shown towards her sister from so many people "has genuinely made a difference and helped us through some dark times in the last 48 hours".

The last two days had been a "surreal" experience, she said, describing having to identify her sister's body the previous evening.

"Yes, this was Jo Cox MP and she was many things to many people in her too short life," Leadbeater continued.

"But she was my sister. My only sibling. My parents’ first born child. A wife and a mum." Cox's two young children are in London with her husband and their father, Brendan Cox.

From a young age, all Cox had wanted was "was for everyone to be happy," her sister said tearfully.

"We were brought up to see the positive in everything and everyone, and have endeavoured to do so all our lives," she added.

"Our parents instilled in us a real glass half-full mentality, and while I sometimes tend to add a large measure of Yorkshire cynicism to this, Jo generally did not. She only saw the good."

Leadbeater said that she and her sister would often talk and cry over abuse the MP would receive on social media, "but she would still focus on the positive and talk about the silent majority, who didn’t always shout the loudest, but who she knew were in her corner."

She said that Cox "would have loved" the passionate way in which people "have spoken from the heart with genuine emotion and no hidden agendas" over the last 48 hours and urged people "to continue this strength and solidarity in the days, months and years to come as part of Jo’s legacy".

Danny Lawson / PA WIRE

Jean Leadbeater, the mother of Labour MP Jo Cox, embraces her sister Kim Leadbeater while her father Gordon looks on, as they look at floral tributes left in Birstall, West Yorkshire.

For now, Leadbeater said, her family was broken, but was determined that her sister would never leave them.

"She will live on through all the good people in the world.

"Through Brendan, through us and through her truly wonderful children, who will always know what an utterly amazing woman their mother was."

Read Kim Leadbeater's full tribute to her sister, MP Jo Cox, below.

There are some things in life you should never have to do. Last night I had to go and identify my sister’s body.

Yes, this was Jo Cox MP and she was many things to many people in her too short life.

But she was my sister. My only sibling. My parents’ first born child. A wife and a mum.

This is a very surreal situation. My parents and my partner and I are quite private people, and Jo, in true character, had fully respected our wish to remain out of the public eye.

But I could not continue to watch the overwhelming outpouring of genuine grief, sympathy and love that there has been since this horrendous incident occurred without speaking on behalf of Jo’s family.

We want to say a most sincere and heartfelt thank you to everyone who has expressed their love and affection for Jo and sent their thoughts and sympathy for us. It has genuinely made a difference and helped us through some dark times in the last 48 hours.

We would particularly like to thank the police and the emergency services, who have been absolutely outstanding in the care they have provided to Jo and ourselves. Absolutely outstanding.

We would also like to thank the brave and courageous gentleman, Bernard Kenny, who tried to help her in her hour of need. Our thoughts and thanks go to him and his family and we wish him well in his recovery. What an amazing man.

Jo’s team of staff, both here and in London, have been a source of support and strength to her since she was elected and she loved them dearly. I would particularly like to pay tribute to Sandra and Fazila who were with her on Thursday. Two of the most wonderful women you could hope to meet.

From a very young age all Jo ever wanted was for everyone to be happy. We were brought up to see the positive in everything and everyone and have endeavoured to do so all our lives. Our parents instilled in us a real glass half full mentality, and while I sometimes tend to add a large measure of Yorkshire cynicism to this, Jo generally did not. She only saw the good.

We know that there are some evil people in this world, but there are an awful lot of good people too. When Jo would get abuse on Facebook or Twitter, we would talk and sometimes cry together, but she would still focus on the positive and talk about the silent majority, who didn’t always shout the loudest, but who she knew were in her corner.

I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I was at times part of that silent majority. I don’t do social media and would shout at the TV or get upset at home instead. But over the past 48 hours, people have not been silent – they have been vocal and passionate and have spoken from the heart with genuine emotion and no hidden agendas. Jo would have loved it.

We have to continue this strength and solidarity in the days, months and years to come as part of Jo’s legacy. And to focus on, as Jo would say, that which unites us, and not which divides us.

For now our family is broken. But we will mend over time. And we will never let Jo leave our lives.

She will live on through all the good people in the world. Through Brendan, through us and through her truly wonderful children, who will always know what an utterly amazing woman their mother was.

She was a human being and she was perfect. Thank you.

Laura Silver is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Laura Silver at laura.silver@buzzfeed.com.

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