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Pound, stock jump amid apparent boost for EU

Danica Kirka
Associated Press

London — The British pound and global stock markets surged as shock at the death of the pro-Europe British lawmaker Jo Cox seemed to sap momentum from campaigners fighting for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

The market surge suggested growing investor confidence that the uncertainty associated with a “leave” vote in Thursday’s referendum would be avoided. Betting houses also shortened the odds that Britain would remain in the 28-nation bloc.

Referendum campaigning has resumed with a more somber tone after being suspended for three days following the death Cox, who was shot and stabbed to death outside a library in her northern England constituency last Thursday.

Police have charged a suspect, Thomas Mair, who gave his name during a weekend court appearance as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” He appeared in court for a brief hearing by video link Monday from prison, and his lawyer did not seek bail.

Mair’s motivation is unknown, but the slaying raised concerns about the often vitriolic tone of the referendum campaign, which has exposed bitter divisions about immigration and national identity in Britain.

Lawmakers called back from recess for a special session in Cox’s memory urged what Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called “a kinder, gentler politics” in the wake of her death.

“We all have a responsibility, in this House and beyond, not to whip up hatred and sow division,” Corbyn said.

Cox’s friends and colleagues spoke of her warmth, energy and principles, as her husband Brendan and two children watched from the public gallery.

A red and a white rose were placed in Cox’s spot on the green Commons benches, and each lawmaker wore a white rose, symbol of her home county of Yorkshire.

Several legislators choked back tears as they spoke, and many recalled Cox’s words in her first Commons speech: “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

“An attack like this strikes not only at an individual but at our freedom,” said Speaker John Bercow. “That is why we assemble here, both to honor Jo and to redouble our dedication to democracy.”

While “remain” campaigners have focused on the economic uncertainty surrounding a British exit from the bloc — popularly known as “Brexit” — the “leave” side has stressed the emotive issue of immigration. Campaigners argue that Britain cannot control migration while it remains in the EU, which is built on the principle of free movement between member states.