Thomas Mair, 52, is the lone suspect charged in the shooting and stabbing death of Cox, a pro-immigrant, pro-refugee, junior member of parliament. In his first court appearance Saturday, Mair, who reports say has a history of links to racist groups and mental problems, refused to identify himself by his legal name, saying, “My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”
Cox’s killing stunned Britain and prompted both camps to suspend campaigning for three days.
Campaigning resumed Sunday, with both sides holding large rallies in London and making a visible effort to lower their tones at the end of what observers say has been a bitter and nasty run-up to the referendum that many, in their minds, link to Cox’s murder.
Immigration has been a key issue among voters uncomfortable with Britain’s rising multicultural society, fears made worse by last year’s migrant crisis and images of a massive influx of refugees from the Middle East and migrants from North Africa.
Supporters of the "Leave" campaign have tended to include older voters who are concerned about sovereignty and overreach by a European Union governing apparatus in which British voters do not directly elect their representatives. Many in the "Leave" camp are blue-collar workers who see the tide of immigrants, including a large population of EU workers from Poland, as threatening their livelihood.
Those sentiments have been fanned by anti-immigrant movements such as that led by Nigel Farage, a far-right lawmaker and Brexit proponent whose group, within hours of Cox’s murder, released a campaign poster showing thousands of migrants and refugees waiting at the EU border with the words “Breaking Point.”
Critics included Conservative Chancellor George Osborne, who said the poster had echoes of xenophobic propaganda put out by Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
Seeing the poster caused the former chair of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party to end her support for leaving the EU, it was reported Monday.
Sayeeda Warsi, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants and the first Muslim woman to head the Conservatives, said, “Hate and xenophobia” portrayed in the poster caused her to change her stance on Brexit, telling The Times newspaper, “I can’t go on supporting this.”
Warsi’s decision appeared to reflect the attitudes of previously undecided voters who took part in the poll by Andrew Hawkins’ firm. “It seemed to confirm their suspicions that the campaign was getting nasty, that we all need to come back and get real again and ignore the tone of the campaign and make the decision based on the facts,” Hawkins said.