'˜Britain must lead' militarily says report, co-authored by Jo Cox

A report which murdered MP Jo Cox was working on before her death that warns Britain must not shy away from ­military action has been published.

Labour MP Jo Cox was working on the report with a Conservative colleague before her death. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Labour MP Jo Cox was working on the report with a Conservative colleague before her death. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

In the weeks before she was killed in an attack by a man revealed to be a neo-Nazi, the Labour backbencher had started to put together a joint paper with Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat about the UK’s role in the world. It was later completed by Mrs Cox’s friend, MP Alison McGovern.

Mrs Cox’s widower, Brendan Cox, said his wife had written on a draft of the report that “Britain must lead again”.

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The paper, entitled The Cost of Doing Nothing, says that the backlash over the Iraq War has led to a rise in “knee-jerk isolationism, unthinking pacifism and anti-interventionism”.

But it warns that retreating from the global stage has “dangerous” implications for national and international security and heightens the risk of further global instability.

Mr Cox said: “Jo was passionate about this piece of work. She felt deeply that the UK had a duty to stand up for civilians threatened by war and genocide. Her commitment wasn’t theoretical, it was forged by her experience of meeting survivors of genocide in Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda and Sudan.

“Last week I was clearing some of Jo’s things and found the first draft of the report that she had scribbled all over. At the top she had written ‘Britain must lead again’.

“Although she isn’t here to advance that argument, she’d be delighted that her colleagues and friends are able to do so in her stead.”

The report, published by think-tank Policy Exchange, highlights examples of successful intervention, including the no-fly zone in northern Iraq in 1991 to protect Kurds from air attacks waged by Saddam Hussein’s regime, and Nato’s action a year earlier to shield civilians in Kosovo from Slobodan Milosevic’s campaign of ethnic cleansing.

It also sets out the “devastating consequences” of failing to take action, including in the 1994 Rwandan genocide and the Syrian civil war, which has left an estimated half a million people dead.

Mr Tugendhat said: “Britain has never been isolationist. It is in our national interest to be engaged with the world we helped shape.

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“That means taking responsibility, and influencing events and intervening when necessary. To stand aside would not make us or the world safer, but leave us vulnerable to the whims of others rather than doing what we have always done: shape our own destiny and be a force for good.”

Former prime minister Gordon Brown will launch the report.