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Murdered British MP’s widower urges unity in 2017


Brendan Cox

Brendan Cox

The widower of murdered British MP Jo Cox on Sunday urged people to heed the wake-up call of 2016 and come together in 2017 to fight extremism and terrorism.

Brendan Cox in a televised speech called for people to reunite after a divisive year in Europe, the United States and the Middle East.

Since 1993, Channel 4 television has shown an alternative Christmas message as Queen Elizabeth II’s traditional speech to the Commonwealth is screened on other British channels.

Jo Cox, 41, a mother of two young children, was shot and stabbed to death on June 16 in the days before Britain’s EU referendum.

Last month Nazi-inspired Thomas Mair, 53, was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of release after being found guilty of murdering the opposition Labour MP.

“2016 has been an awful year for our family. And it’s been a divisive one for the wider world,” Brendan Cox said.

“A year in which fascism, xenophobia, extremism and terrorism made us divided and feel threatened. From America to Europe to the Middle East and beyond.

“And these trends could strengthen, they could gain momentum, they could consolidate.

“But that isn’t how it has to be.

“Instead of being a turning point for the worse, 2016 could be a wake-up call that brings us back together.”

He urged people to reach out to those they disagreed with and defend the values of tolerance and fair play.

“I hope 2017 might be the year in which we realise that we have more in common than that which divides us.”

Previous presenters of the Channel 4 message have included comedy character Ali G, French actress Brigitte Bardot, chef Jamie Oliver, cartoon character Marge Simpson, Iran’s former hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Channel 4’s deputy head of news and current affairs Daniel Pear said: “2016 has been one of the most momentous years in recent history — punctuated by political turmoil, conflict and a stream of dramatic events.

“Brendan’s message references this wider turbulence but is also a very personal reflection.”

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