In what may be one of the world’s most significant voting referendums, the people of the U.K. will be voting Thursday to decide whether or not the U.K. will remain in the European Union or exit the union in favor of greater sovereignty. The measure will likely have an effect on trade, world currency, and global stability.
In the backdrop of the looming vote, a gruesome murder has taken place.
Thomas Mair, 52, allegedly gunned down and stabbed to death British Labour Party lawmaker Jo Cox in broad daylight Thursday. Mair was brought to Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London for his first court appearance.
“Death to traitors, freedom for Britain,” Mair replied when asked to state his name.
Thomas Mair in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court pic.twitter.com/NE9uCtSbBi
— Daniel Sandford (@BBCDanielS) June 18, 2016
Mair also refused to discuss his age and place of birth. The court recommended a psychiatric evaluation be completed in light of Mair’s answers to basic identification questions.
According to the Associated Press, “The rare killing in broad daylight of a British politician has stunned the country and silenced what had been a furious campaign ahead of Thursday’s referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union.”
Both sides of the debate, out of respect for Cox’s death, have suspended their campaigns to keep or withdraw the U.K. from the EU.
Mair has been charged with murder, inflicting grievous bodily harm, possession of a firearm with intent to commit a crime, and other gun-related crimes.
Cox, her husband, and her two young children had been living in a houseboat on the River Thames since her election last year. Anti-terrorism police are investigating Mair’s motive in the murder. Currently, authorities have not offered a motive for the heinous attack.