Following the senseless murder of UK parliament member and Remain backer Jo Cox, the Remain forces have come out to politicize her death, as expected.

Jo Cox

Please consider Merkel Warns Politicians Against Inflaming Hatred.

Angela Merkel on Friday warned that the killing of British MP Jo Cox should serve as a stark reminder to politicians to avoid inflammatory language.

“This is a terrible precedent,” said the German chancellor. “The overall lesson must be that we behave with respect to each other, including when we have different political beliefs . . . Otherwise radicalisation will definitely not be stopped.”

Critics of the Brexit campaign seized on the killing to attack the Brexiters. In France, Marion Van Renterghem, a reporter at Le Monde, the daily paper, tweeted: “The lovely face of Jo Cox will become the symbol of an absurd and suicidal referendum.”

Karl-Georg Wellmann, a leading MP in Ms Merkel’s CDU party, pointed at leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson. He told German radio: “When an English politician, especially a conservative politician like Boris Johnson, compares the EU with Adolf Hitler, we should not wonder when some madmen take the law into their own hands.”

Anti-EU politicians expressed concern at the possible damage done to their cause if Ms Cox’s death now rallies support for the Remain campaign that she backed.

However, Sweden and the Netherlands, two countries with recent political murders, offer contrasting lessons about the chances of a surge of support for the victim’s cause.

Pim Fortuyn, the charismatic Dutch anti-Islam politician, was killed nine days before a general election in 2002. The Pim Fortuyn List party went on to win 17 per cent of the parliamentary seats, an unprecedented triumph for a new party. While the grouping later faded, anti-Islamism has remained a potent force and the anti-immigrant PVV is today the most popular party.

In Sweden, Anna Lindh, the late Swedish foreign minister, was killed in a Stockholm department store in 2003, just three days before the country voted in a referendum on whether to join the euro. Although Ms Lindh had backed the euro, there was no pro-euro swing. The anti-euro campaign won easily and Sweden has stayed out of the common currency.

Annika Strom Melin, a columnist for the daily Dagens Nyheter, wrote: “Not just Sweden and the UK, but all countries holding polarising referendums, should by now have learnt what confused and dark forces come out when people think a nation’s honour and future are at stake.”

Polls Suspect

The rhetoric is just starting. Expect more of it. It would be tragic if this absurd killing is the thing that triggers last minute support for Remain.

Anything can happen.

  1. My instinct is that this incident, not history, could conceivably save Remain. Otherwise agnostic voters may vote Remain out of solidarity. Those on the fence may choose to strike back at hatred.
  2. It’s also possible the incident saps the energy from Remain, or voter turnout in general becomes disgusted by the whole process.
  3. Finally, it’s possible that Remain tries to capitalize on this, and the attempt backfires.

We really do not know. Only polls taken after this incident will be reliable now.

Nonetheless, I will keep reporting on the polls. It’s possible, as happened in Sweden and Netherlands, this senseless death will not affect the vote enough to matter.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock