Kim Leadbeater said she would “give literally anything” to not be standing in the House of Commons in place of her murdered sister, Jo Cox, as she made her maiden speech today during a debate to celebrate Mrs Cox’s legacy.
The Labour MP for Batley and Spen paid tribute this afternoon to the "best big sister anybody could ask for,” who had represented the same seat until her death in 2016.
Mrs Cox's own maiden speech was drawn upon, who said in June 2015 that "we are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides." Today Ms Leadbeater insisted: "Those words are as true today as when she said them. Perhaps even more so."
Standing close to the spot where her sister previously sat in the Commons, Ms Leadbeater paid tribute to her legacy.
She said: "I am sure every new MP experiences the same mixture of pride and responsibility that I'm feeling right now.
"But, as the House does my family the great honour of paying tribute to my sister, I hope members will understand that I mean no disrespect to this place when I say that I'd give literally anything not to be standing here today in her place.
"Others are better qualified to reflect on her talents as a parliamentarian and for me she'll always be many other things before an MP.
"A compassionate and caring humanitarian, a proud Yorkshire lass, a friend to many, including a significant number of those who are sat today, a loving daughter - and I'm delighted that our parents, Jean and Gordon, are here today - a fantastic sister-in-law and wife, an outstanding mum to Cuillin and Lejla, who remain full of Jo's energy, optimism and spirit, and the best big sister anybody could ask for."
Mrs Cox was murdered as she worked in her West Yorkshire constituency in 2016. Ms Leadbeater said it "still doesn't feel real" five years on.
She said: "Jo's murder ripped the heart out of our family. I've spoken on many occasions about my ongoing disbelief and devastation following her death - and it still doesn't feel real, today more than ever.
"And it was devastating for the people of Batley and Spen too because so many of them had also taken her to their hearts."
Concluding her speech, Ms Leadbeater said: "I am sure I will make more mistakes because I am only human, as we all are, and I think sometimes people forget that.
"We all have family and friends and, if we are lucky, maybe even some interests and hobbies outside of politics.
"Putting yourself forward for public office is a brave thing to do, wherever you sit in this place, and I appreciate it now more than ever.
"Since my election, the one thing people keep saying to me is 'Kim, please don't change' and I don't intend to. I will always stay true to my roots and identity.
"If I can be half the MP my sister was, then it will be a huge privilege to get on with the job of representing the wonderful people of Batley and Spen."