11:26 GMT23 January 2021
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    Brexit (287)

    The murder of British Labor MP Jo Cox amid the ongoing Brexit campaign has plunged both sides of the debate into a deep shock. In Sweden, the brutal killing is a painful reminder of the assassination of Social Democrat politician Anna Lindh in the final straight of the national Eurozone referendum.

    Labour MP Jo Cox died after being shot and stabbed multiple times after a constituency meeting in West Yorkshire. The murder may become a turning point in the Brexit campaign and provide the UK vote on continued EU membership with an unexpected dénouement.

    Remarkably, the Swedish vote on the euro in 2003 was tarnished by the murder of then Foreign Minister Anna Lindh of the Social Democrat Party, which was carried out in a similar way and under similar circumstances.

    Anna Lindh was stabbed to death on September 13, 2003, in the final stretch of the pro-euro campaign, preceding a referendum on joining the Eurozone. The murderer was a young man named Mijailo Mijailović. Born in Sweden to Serb parents, Mijailović was still troubled by the Yugoslav civil war, where Lindh had definite and anti-nationalist views. Despite the fact that the murder of Anna Lindh never was classified as a political act, Mijailović admitted he felt hatred for all politicians, Swedish and Serbian alike.

    As a popular pro-euro politician, Lindh was a spokesperson for pro-euro side and her face was on billboards across Sweden the day she was murdered. Following the attack, all euro-campaigning was immediately cancelled whereas television advertisements were withdrawn.

    Despite speculations that common sympathy for Lindh could influence the voting, the euro was rejected in the referendum 55.9 percent against and 42.0 percent in favor.

    How the United Kingdom will vote in a week's time is impossible to predict. If murder gets more of Labor supporters to rise up from the sofas and go to the polls, this can possibly tip the scale for the side that wants Britain to remain in the EU, Dagens Nyheter columnist Anna Ström Melin wrote in her opinion piece dedicated to Jo Cox.

    "Not only Sweden and the UK, but all the countries that push their citizens into polarizing referendums, should by now have learned which confused and dark forces that can come in motion when people think the nation's honor and future is at stake," she wrote.

    In Sweden, the Cox assassination is reminiscent of yet another high profile political murder. In 1986, the then Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated walking home from a cinema with his wife. It was the first of its kind in modern Swedish history, and the first assassination of a national leader since King Gustav III was shot dead in 1792.

    Palme had a profound impact on his compatriots' emotions, being particularly popular among the left, but harshly detested by most liberals and conservatives. Known for the aggressive and outspoken debate style, Palme remained a critic of both the United States and the Soviet Union, as well as a fierce advocate of Sweden's non-alignment policy.

    Astonishingly, the Palme murder remains unsolved.

    Brexit (287)


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    assassination, Anna Lindh, Olof Palme, Jo Cox, Scandinavia, Sweden, United Kingdom
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