Cox’s killer’s name? ‘Freedom for Britain’

Mourners gather in memory of murdered Labour Party MP Jo Cox, who was shot dead in Birstall, during a vigil at Parliament Square in London, Britain, June 17, 2016. (Reuters)

Thomas Mair, the man charged with the murder of lawmaker Jo Cox, gave his name as "death to traitors, freedom for Britain" when he appeared in court following an attack that has shocked Britain ahead of next week's referendum on European Union membership.

Cox, a 41-year-old member of the opposition Labour Party who supported staying in the EU, was shot and stabbed on Thursday in the street in her electoral district in northern England.

"My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain," Mair said when asked his name by the clerk at London's Westminster Magistrates Court. When the question was repeated, Mair said the same words again, his only comments during Saturday's 15-minutue hearing.

Wearing grey sports clothing and flanked by two security guards, Mair was charged with murder, causing grievous bodily harm, and possession of a firearm and another offensive weapon.

Cox was preparing to hold a regular session to give advice to her constituents when she was killed in the town of Birstall, Yorkshire, where Mair lives.

The killing has shocked the nation, uniting politicians and leading to the suspension of hostilities in what had become increasingly bitter campaigning ahead of the June 23 referendum on Britain's EU membership.

On Friday, Prime Minister David Cameron joined Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in laying flowers in Birstall.

"It is a vile act that has killed her," Corbyn said.

Cameron has agreed to recall parliament on Monday to allow lawmakers to pay tributes to the popular Member of Parliament (MP), who was only elected in 2015.

The murder has sparked debate in Britain, which has strict gun controls, about the safety of lawmakers, the heightened tempo of political confrontation and whether it would affect the outcome of the EU vote.