Terrorist attack kills five at Westminster

The palace of Westminster with Elizabeth Tower and Westminster Bridge (source: Wikipedia)

By Lydia Jackson

Shock and horror was brought to the nation last week with a terrorist attack committed in central London on the bridge of Westminster and outside of the House of Commons. The tragedy left five dead and approximately 40 injured.

Since then, we have seen both divisive and supportive comments emerge, and significant acts of solidarity such as Muslim women linking hands, followed by the marching of police officers on the bridge.

A series of heroes have emerged in the face of terror, such as Tory MP for Bournemouth Tobias Elwood who ran in the opposite direction to everyone else in order to stem the blood flow and perform mouth to mouth resuscitation on stabbed police officer Keith Palmer.

Palmer has also been coined a hero for preventing attacker Khalid Masood from entering the House of Commons at the gate, although tragically lost his life in the process.

The emergency service respondents involved also deserve a great deal of praise.

The event, which has impacted many, has undoubtedly had political implications and consequences, which can be felt through politicians’ comments and media coverage.

A first question for many will be what impact does the attack have on security and public safety?

Theresa May has stated that Britain “is not afraid”, and assured that Democracy and British values will “prevail”.

She met officers in Glasgow last week, and has since revealed that there will be a major counter-terrorism exercise in Scotland later this year in October.

It will be a multi-agency response exercise as part of the UK Government’s National Counter-Terrorism Exercise Programme.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also increased the number of armed and unarmed police officers in London, in order to keep people safe, whilst claiming that London “will never be cowed by terrorism”.

There have been calls by Home Secretary Amber Rudd to increase online surveillance, after expressing concerns that online messaging apps give “terrorists a place to hide”.

However, there are no planned cyber security measure increases, as a change could leave MPs and others’ communications open to hackers.

A multitude of political figures across the world have contacted the PM, expressing solidarity and a refusal to bow down in the face of terrorism, including French President Hollande, President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Merkel, and Dutch PM Mark Rutte.

The far Right have also expressed support for the people of London, whilst also expressing the need for furtherance of action.

Farage initially called for people to “point the blame” at politicians such as Tony Blair which have encouraged multiculturalism. Although, he later publicly admitted that immigration had nothing to do with the terrorist attack.

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has called for tightened security measures, stating “we must control our borders”. French elections are to take place this year in May.

Far Right Dutch PVV politician Geert Wilders simply retweeted the events with no comment.

Donald Trump Jnr has expressed disagreement with Khan’s response: “You have to be kidding me?!: Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan”.

Despite these varied responses, one which can be seen to resonate quite clearly is that of European Parliament chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, who says the Westminster attack shows European nations need to stay united and share intelligence, despite the triggering of Article 50 and Brexit.