Politicians, dignitaries and councillors gathered in Stevenage town centre today to pay their respects to Labour MP Jo Cox who was tragically murdered yesterday.

Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor, the town’s MP Stephen McPartland and former MP Barbara Follett were among those who came together in solidarity to lay roses and light candles around the Joyride statue in Town Square.

Mrs Cox was 41 and had served in parliament for just a year representing the Batley and Spen constituency in West Yorkshire when she was shot and stabbed by an attacker in nearby Birstall.

A 52-year-old man was arrested shortly after the attack and is currently being held in custody.

Mrs Taylor, who runs the Labour-controlled borough council, told the gathering: “Our first thoughts are with her husband and her two young children, her friends, her colleagues and constituents.

“The Labour Party is a family and yesterday one of our brightest stars was taken from us in the cruellest and most senseless way possible.

“She dedicated her life to making things better and the best way we can remember her is to unite together to defeat the hate that killed her.”

Conservative MP Mr McPartland added: “It’s a very sad day, I was totally in shock when I found out about it. The fact that someone can think it’s okay to do that to another human being is unbelievable.

“She was a rising star and I’m very grateful I’ve had the opportunity to come along and pay my respects.”

Former Stevenage MP Barbara Follett helped mentor Mrs Cox when she was chairman of the Labour Women’s Network – which Mrs Follett set up.

She said: “She had enormous energy and enormous compassion and was the sort of person who made you feel better for being with her.”

She said she had faced numerous security threats as an MP, including death threats and stalkers, and said there needed to be an ‘attitude change’ between members of the public and public servants.