Brendan Cox, the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox, will deliver Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas message this year.
Cox, whose wife was shot and stabbed in her constituency of Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire in the summer, will reflect on the fear and tensions that permeated the last 12 months and pay a moving tribute to his wife in the message.
It will be broadcast on Christmas Day at 2.05pm on Channel 4; the Queen’s traditional Christmas broadcast will air at 3pm on BBC1, ITV and Sky News.
Brendan Cox will say: “2016 has been an awful year for our family, and it’s been a divisive one for the wider world. A year in which fascism, xenophobia, extremism and terrorism made us divided and felt threatened, from America, to Europe, to the Middle East and beyond.
“And these trends could strengthen – they could gain momentum they could consolidate and they could threaten the fundamental freedoms, and democracy that our grandparents fought for.”
In a tribute to his wife, he will say that the events of this year should be a wakeup call to defend tolerance, fair play and solidarity: “After all that’s happened this year, she would hope that all of us make a resolution to do something in 2017 to bring our communities back together. To reach out to somebody that might disagree with us. Now is not a moment to shout louder into our echo chambers. It’s a moment to reach out.”
Recorded on the converted Dutch barge which he and his wife established as a family home on the River Thames, he recalls the joy his late wife found at this time of year: “Jo loved Christmas, the games, the traditions, the coming together of friends and family and above all the excitement of our kids. This year we’ll try to remember how lucky we were to have Jo in our lives for so long – and not how unlucky we were to have her taken from us.”
Jo Cox was just 41 when she was murdered by a far right extremist near her constituency office one week before the UK voted on its future in Europe. She left behind Brendan, her husband of seven years, and their two young children.
Channel 4’s Deputy Head of News & Current Affairs Daniel Pearl, who commissioned ITN Productions to produce this year’s message, said: “2016 has been one of the most momentous years in recent history – punctuated by political turmoil, conflict and a stream of dramatic events. Brendan’s message references this wider turbulence but is also a very personal reflection at Christmas, a time for family and looking back over the past year, from a man who has suffered the tragic loss of his wife and mother of his children as a result of extremism.”
The Alternative Christmas Message has previously been delivered by a number of prominent figures from Reverend Jesse Jackson to whistle-blower Edward Snowden and Doreen and Neville Lawrence, the parents of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.