If one result of the horrific killing of MP Jo Cox is that Brexit once again comes to be seen as an issue of huge importance to the future of the United Kingdom, rather than an opportunity for name-calling and point-scoring, perhaps she will not have died entirely in vain.
Arriving in New York for a brief visit as the news of Jo’s murder broke, that was the mood I found among American friends. They were as horrified as we Britons all are, despite having themselves to cope with the shock of the slaughter of 49 people and wounding of 53 in Orlando a few days earlier.
Friends abroad read the same polls and betting odds as the rest of us. They worry that we Britons may be about to vote to leave the European Union for reasons which have little to do with the real pros and cons and on the basis of arguments which are either irrelevant or misrepresented. European friends in particular remind us how often – in countries as varied as France, Denmark and Ireland – people vote in referendums with little regard for the actual question on the ballot paper.
In Thursday’s referendum, which is far more important for the future of our country than any general election, this is dangerous. We need to ask ourselves some searching questions. Whether or not we think this referendum was necessary, we need to think very carefully about what is at stake.