The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997


Sir John Major’s Comments on the Death of Jo Cox – 17 June 2016

Below is the text of the comments made by Sir John Major during an interview with Lionel Barber, the editor of the Financial Times, on 17 June 2016.


I must begin to ask you about the tragic and senseless killing of Labour MP Jo Cox. What does this tell us about the state of our representative democracy?


I think it’s a particularly shocking event for several reasons. I think it’s particularly shocking because it is simply not what we expect in this country. It’s doubly shocking because here was a young lady with young children, little more than babies themselves, and I think that has sunk deep in the public consciousness.

I think what people will be concerned about is whether this is the act of a single deranged man or is this emblematic of an angry feeling that has grown up, not just in our country but all over Europe. I hope and believe that it’s the former.


Do you believe the referendum campaign can, and has, engendered those kind of emotions?


I don’t believe this is to do with the referendum campaign, certainly not. I think you’ve seen this concern arising all over Europe, and of course in the United States, for quite a long time. There is a disaffection with politics, and hence with politicians, and there are a vast range of reasons for it. One of course is the fact that, probably since 2007, the majority of people across Europe have not have any material increase in their quality of life and in their standard of living and that is very, very unusual. We need to go back to the 1930s to find a comparatively long period.

We in our country have done better than most, hence the pretty dramatic fall in unemployment. But you don’t see that across Europe and there are some very harsh feelings and a rising of some pretty unpalatable thoughts across Europe.