Tracey Brabin, who succeeded Mrs Cox as MP for Batley and Spen following her 2016 murder, said Mr Johnson needed to remember “his words have consequences”.
“He just proved that he has no emotional intelligence because then to say that the best thing we can do to remember Jo is ‘to get Brexit done’ when Jo was a passionate Remainer – only the day before her tragic murder she was on the Thames with her family campaigning to stay in the EU – it just seemed extraordinary,” Ms Brabin told BBC’s Radio 5.
[quote_box_center]“It got gasps around the chamber, because remember that Jo worked cross-party – she had friends in all parties. And just the crassness of it was deeply shocking.”[/quote_box_center]
Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said all people “had a responsibility to be mild in our language when we’re speaking in this House or outside”.
“I’m afraid to say it’s something where all sides err from time to time and it’d be invidious to pick on individual examples but we have a responsibility of leadership,” he added.
Boris Johnson provoked gasps in the Commons and was widely condemned after claiming the best way to honour murdered MP Jo Cox would be to “get Brexit done”.
The British Prime Minister’s remark came after several MPs drew upon the memory of Mrs Cox when urging him to curb his “violent” and “dangerous” language.
Brendan Cox, widower of Mrs Cox, said he felt “a bit sick at Jo’s name being used in this way” while the Commons heard MPs were reduced to tears and some left the parliamentary estate due to the “distress” caused.
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson described the PM’s words as “sickening” and appeared to fight back tears as she revealed she has reported to police a threat against her child.
Labour’s Paula Sherriff (Dewsbury) initially criticised Mr Johnson for his repeated use of “surrender act” when describing legislation designed to prevent ministers forcing through a no-deal Brexit on October 31.
Feel a bit sick at Jo’s name being used in this way. The best way to honour Jo is for all of us (no matter our views) to stand up for what we believe in, passionately and with determination. But never to demonise the other side and always hold onto what we have in common.
— Brendan Cox (@MrBrendanCox) September 25, 2019
She warned against using such language and mentioned Mrs Cox before highlighting that many MPs are subject to death threats and abuse.
But Mr Johnson labelled her remarks “humbug”, which prompted an angry response in the chamber – with shouts of “shame” emerging.
Labour’s Tracy Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen, who was elected to the seat after Mrs Cox was killed by a man with far-right sympathies during the 2016 EU referendum campaign, also called for the PM to moderate his language.
She said: “As the woman who has taken over a seat left by our dear friend Jo Cox, can I ask him in all honesty as a human being please, please will he going forward moderate his language so that we will all feel secure when we’re going about our jobs.”
Mr Johnson replied: “Of course there will be an attempt to try to obfuscate the effect of this Act, but it does – the Capitulation Act, or the Surrender Act or whatever you want to call it – it does, I’m sorry, but it greatly enfeebles, it greatly enfeebles this Government’s ability to negotiate.
“But what I will say is that the best way to honour the memory of Jo Cox and indeed the best to bring this country together would be, I think, to get Brexit done.”
Earlier, Ms Sherriff said the PM had “continually used pejorative language to describe an Act of Parliament passed by this House”.
She added: “We should not resort to using offensive, dangerous or inflammatory language for legislation that we do not like and we stand here under the shield of our departed friend with many of us in this place subject to death threats and abuse every single day.
“And let me tell the Prime Minister that they often quote his, words Surrender Act, betrayal, traitor, and I for one am sick of it. We must moderate our language and it has to come from the Prime Minister first.”
She added: “He should be absolutely ashamed of himself.” Her words prompted applause from the opposition benches.
This Prime Minister is a disgrace.@paulasherriff made heartfelt plea for him to stop using inflammatory words like "surrender". She pointed at the plaque for murdered MP Jo Cox, and regular death threats MPs face, quoting such language.
Johnson said "humbug".
— Jo Swinson (@joswinson) September 25, 2019
Mr Johnson said: “I have to say, Mr Speaker, I’ve never heard such humbug in all my life.”
The PM was later urged to clarify his remarks on Mrs Cox, to which he said: “I can, I think, to explain exactly what I mean because I believe that the continuing failure to deliver on the mandate of the people greatly exacerbated feelings and the best way to reduce that tension is, as I say, to get it done and then the whole country can move on.”
Widower Mr Cox wrote on Twitter: “Feel a bit sick at Jo’s name being used in this way.
“The best way to honour Jo is for all of us (no matter our views) to stand up for what we believe in, passionately and with determination. But never to demonise the other side and always hold onto what we have in common.”
Anna Soubry, leader of the Independent Group for Change, raised a point of order to say: “It takes a lot to reduce this honourable member to tears and it gives me no pleasure saying that.”
She added: “I am not alone tonight, there are others, I believe, who has left the estate, such has been the distress.”
I get death threats and still I stand up, I don't surrender to fear & aggression. I don't surrender to lowest common denominator of fear to votes. I don't surrender to bullies who call me names. It is not I who have surrendered it is Boris Johnson he has surrendered his dignity.
— Jess Phillips MP (@jessphillips) September 25, 2019
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on the Speaker to “call together the leaders of all parties in this House to issue a joint declaration opposing any form of abusive language or threats and to put this message out to our entire community that we have to treat each other with respect”.
Mr Bercow said he was “very open to convening a meeting of senior colleagues for the purpose of a House-wide public statement”.
Paying his own tribute, Mr Bercow said: “I don’t think any of us in this chamber will entirely forget or overcome our horror, revulsion and distress at what happened to a wonderful human being and the most dedicated of public servants.
“She was murdered for what she believed, the values she held and for her effectiveness in campaigning for them.
“We do not in any circumstances ever want to witness a repeat of that.”