Jo Cox Murder: Quick Facts

  • Jo Cox's suspected killer appeared in court on Saturday
  • Cox was attacked with knife and gun in Birstall on Thursday
  • Thomas Mair, the defendant, has possible far-right links
  • Mair has been charged with a string of crimes
  • Campaigning for June 23 EU referendum has been suspended

The man accused of murdering Jo Cox, a British opposition Labour Party MP, has appeared in court for the first time.

When asked to confirm his name at the Westminster Magistrates' Court, 52-year-old Thomas Mair said "Death to traitors, freedom for Britain".

Cox was attacked with a knife and a firearm on Thursday outside her constituency surgery in the village of Birstall, northern England.

Mair has been charged with a string of crimes, including grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm and murder.

READ MORE: Minority communities pay tribute to Jo Cox

Police have previously said the suspect's possible far-right links are a priority line of inquiry for detectives.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a US advocacy group, previously said that Mair, who had lived in Birstall for decades, was a "dedicated supporter" of National Alliance, once the primary neo-Nazi organisation in the US.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said Mair had spent more than $620 on reading material from the National Alliance, which advocated the creation of an all-white homeland and the eradication of Jewish people.

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The murder of Cox, a pro-EU advocate, has left Britain in shock and campaigning for the June 23 referendum on European Union membership has been suspended as a mark of respect.

On Friday, David Cameron, British prime minister, and opposition politician Jeremy Corbyn jointly paid tribute to the slain MP, and called for greater tolerance in public debate.

Shock killing halts Britain's EU campaign

"Where we see hatred, where we find division, where we see intolerance, we must drive it out of our politics and out of our public life and out of our communities," Cameron said from Birstall, where he and Corbyn laid bouquets at the scene where Cox was shot.

"She was taken from us in an act of hatred, in a vile act that has killed her. It's an attack on democracy what happened yesterday. It's the well of hatred that killed her," Corbyn, the leader of Labour Party, said.

Many commentators have speculated whether the killing could be linked to the referendum on the so-called Brexit, which has stoked tensions by touching on issues of national identity and immigration.

Cox, a former aid worker, was an advocate for Syrian refugees.

Cox's death has also cast a shadow on the debate over the Brexit referendum, Al Jazeera's Barnaby Phillips, reporting from London, said. 

"Everybody knows that what happens on Thursday is much more important than an election that will define this nation perhaps for decades."

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Source: Al Jazeera and agencies