Parliament’s Business as Usual Shows Defiance After London AttackBy , , and
Four killed including an unarmed police officer and assailant
Attacker acted alone, inspired by Islamist terror, police say
Parliament got back to work on Thursday after London’s worst terror attack in more than a decade left four people dead, including the assailant and the police officer he stabbed.
Lawmakers, and those investigating the crime scene outside, held a minute of silence as lawmakers returned less than 24 hours after the deadly assault that also put 29 people in hospital, seven with critical injuries. Police, who said the attacker acted alone and was probably inspired by Islamist terrorism, arrested seven people overnight.
In New Palace Yard, where the lone strike came to its brutal conclusion, a tent covered the point where the constable died. The ambulance that came to his aid was still there, its door still open. By the gates 48-year-old Kevin Palmer had guarded, 11 investigators in pale blue plastic suits stood in silence.
Then, the minute over, they knelt down in a line and continued their fingertip search of the cobbles.
Inside, business resumed with questions to Trade Secretary Liam Fox and fellow ministers. The Scottish National Party’s trade spokeswoman, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, appeared to be fighting back tears as she paid tribute to the victims before putting her question.
Prime Minister Theresa May is due to speak at 10:30 a.m.
On Wednesday the attack shut down Parliament, leaving hundreds of lawmakers and workers in lockdown for several hours. May was in the lobby of the House of Commons before she was whisked to safety in a Jaguar.
A car crashed into railings outside Parliament after running down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge. A man with a knife then ran through the gate, assaulted Palmer, and was shot. Among the dead were people on the bridge, and French school children were among those hurt.
“The location of this attack was no accident,” May, dressed in black with a quavering voice, said outside her residence -- a 10-minute walk from the scene. “The terrorists chose to strike at the heart of our capital city.”
The attack comes amid political and economic uncertainty surrounding plans to start withdrawing from the European Union next week. It’s London’s biggest terrorist attack since the multiple bombing of the transport network in 2005, and strikes a symbolic -- and highly fortified -- site in the center of London.
It was exactly a year since the worst terror attack in Belgium’s history, in which 32 people were killed and hundreds more were wounded. It also bore the hallmarks of similar attacks carried out elsewhere in Europe, where vehicles have been used to mow down pedestrians. It comes a day after the U.K. joined the U.S. in unveiling new security measures banning laptops from flights from some Middle Eastern countries.
The U.K.’s last major terrorist attack was in July 2005, when four radical Islamists targeted morning rush hour, killing 52 civilians. More recently, in June 2016, Labour lawmaker Jo Cox was killed by a right-wing extremist, while in May 2013 a British soldier was stabbed to death outside his southwest London barracks by two men.
British police have arrested record numbers on suspected terrorist charges since the country’s terror threat was raised to its second-highest level in August 2014. Rowley said extra police officers, both armed and not, will roam the streets of London and the army will be called upon if needed. The alert level remains unchanged.
May struck a defiant tone in addressing the country, urging people to carry on.
“Tomorrow morning Parliament will meet as normal; we will come together as normal; and Londoners and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great city will get up and go about their day as normal,” she said. “They will board their trains, they will leave their hotels, they will walk these streets, they will live their lives, and we will all move forward together, never giving in to terror.”
— With assistance by Stephanie Bodoni, Caroline Alexander, Joe Mayes, Jeremy Hodges, and Brian Swint