Jeremy Corbyn has told ITV’s Peston on Sunday1 security at Parliament “needs to be looked at” in the wake of the Westminster attack and called on the government to overhaul its counter-terror approach to stop Muslims feeling singled out. In a wide-ranging interview with Robert Peston, the Labour leader said:
Addressing matters away from the attack, Mr Corbyn also said:
“I think what Prevent has often done is seen to target the Muslim community, not anybody else, looks to say there is a kind of suspicion over the whole community and it’s actually often counter-productive.”
When pushed on exactly what he believed needed to change, he said: “I’m saying broaden it into an agenda of inclusion. .. . Focus it on all communities.”
Wednesday’s attack saw lone-wolf extremist Khalid Masood, who converted to Islam in adulthood, shot dead to end his car and knife attack in central London on Wednesday. Mr Corbyn clarified that he supported the policy of shoot-to-kill “in a wholly defensive situation” but cautioned: “You’ve got to be careful you don’t end up with what we had in Ireland in the 1980s.”
Mr Corbyn backed the police response, saying: “The police did their best to protect Parliament and Keith Palmer lost his life trying to protect Parliament.
“But there is a question of .. . access to the building and that needs to be looked at.”
On the possibility of an early general election being called by the Prime Minister, Mr Corbyn said: “We are developing our policies but clearly if an election is called we can bring all that forward and we are ready, yes.”
He added: “It wouldn’t be just us actually because it (repealing the Fixed-term Parliament Act) requires two thirds of all MPs to vote for it.
“We would not block it, of course not, because if that’s what is on offer, I don’t know if that’s in her mind or not .
She certainly hasn’t discussed it with me.”
Britain’s top anti-terror cop today signalled MPs may have to put up with more intrusive security at Parliament to protect it in future. Scotland Yard s anti-terror chief Mark Rowley stressed that a review following the terror attack1 would probe whether a different tone or balance was needed for security at Westminster.
Our current arrangements have been developed with Parliament over many years and are designed to provide access to the seat of our Government balanced with security that is proportionate but not overly intrusive, he said.
As would be expected, my team will work with Parliamentary authorities to assess whether a different tone or a different balance is necessary. Police at the scene after the attack (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)
He spoke out as calls grew for more armed officers to be deployed at key points around the estate.
Senior Tory MP Nigel Evans said: If the tragic death of Keith Palmer points us to any action that we need to take it is if we are going to have unarmed police officers on the frontline, we need to ensure that within inches of them there are armed police officers behind them. Forensic investigators at the scene of the attack (Jeremy Selwyn)
The attacker, Khalid Masood, 52, is understood to have been shot dead by two officers from Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon s personal protection team who were waiting for him in his official car as he went to vote in the Commons. This has raised concerns among MPs over the speed of response of other armed officers.
However, Ken Marsh, chairman of the London Police Federation, said: If these two were not there, there would still have been armed officers there in seconds. It emerged today that Masood burst through Parliament s main carriage gates while they were open for a car carrying Acting Met Commissioner Craig Mackey to leave the estate . Mr Mackey was driven off quickly.
Police officers have long complained the solid iron Victorian gates are too heavy to open and close constantly, despite modifications, for cars to come and go, which may explain why they were not shut instantly. Meanwhile, amateur footage captured the apparent confusion of the moments after the attack when Theresa May was walking through a Commons courtyard flanked by protection officers. After shouts of Get in the car , the Prime Minister began to walk one way before veering back to the nearest car .
A member of the security detail is heard shouting for his car keys, in the video published by the Sun. The security review will also inevitably focus on the vetting of the thousands of people with passes to access the parliamentary estate. More than 1,200 passes have been lost over the last seven years, including 280 belonging to MPs, which once reported are blocked from use.
Hundreds of people on social media backed calls by MP James Cleverly, who served in the army with Pc Palmer, for him to be post-humously honoured, with the George Medal or another award.
Meanwhile, former Culture Secretary and ex-London Minister Dame Tessa Jowell said: There should be a lasting memorial to those who died and to the emergency staff who, like PC Keith Palmer, showed such courage.
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