THE husband of Jo Cox has announced a nationwide programme of street parties to commemorate the anniversary of her death – and hopes it will rival the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in scale.
Brendan Cox said the event, called The Great Get Together on the weekend of June 17/18, would be a “fitting tribute” to the mother-of-two who was shot and stabbed by Thomas Mair on June 16 last year.
Her murder was “designed to divide our country”, so uniting in this way would be “a powerful statement,” he added.
The Royal Family and a wide range of national charities have committed to helping publicise the event.
Mr Cox told BBC Radio Two’s Jeremy Vine that his wife loved a party and would have been thrilled by the idea of people coming together on her behalf.
“We wanted something that celebrated Jo’s energy but also brought the community together,” he said. “That could be picnics on your village green, street parties, shared barbecues, community bake-offs. The basic idea is to get together and have fun.”
But he said the event also sent a strong message.
“The killing of Jo was a political thing designed to divide our country and split communities apart. As a reaction to that event, (we will) bring the country together en masse.”
Mrs Cox used her maiden speech in Parliament in 2015 to say people in the UK “have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”.
More than eight million people were estimated to have taken part in neighbourhood street parties for the Queen’s landmark jubilee in 2012 and last year 7.3 million people held lunches in streets, gardens and community spaces as part of a project known as The Big Lunch, which began in 2009.
Charities planning their own events include the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, NSPCC, Women’s Institute, Glastonbury Festival, Help For Heroes and the RNLI. The Premier League, Scouts and Guides and other organisations have also pledged support.
“Whether it’s the Olympics, Jubilee or Royal Wedding, people love that opportunity to come together,” Mr Cox added.
“But being British we need an excuse to get together.”
The Duchess of Cornwall and chef Jamie Oliver were joining Mr Cox for the launch of the The Great Get Together at Clarence House.
Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin said: “The Great Get Together is a wonderful initiative and I can’t think of a better way to remember Jo one year on from when she was taken from us.
“Getting everyone in the community together to talk and get to know one another is what she would have loved.
“I know it’s going to be a difficult time for Jo’s family and our community and I hope Batley and Spen grinds to a halt with everyone in the community out on the streets, celebrating who we are.”