British Prime Minister Theresa May has described last night’s terror attack in London, in which seven people were killed, as part of a new trend of terrorism, saying “the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism” needs to be defeated.
- Theresa May outlines four ways the strategy of dealing with terrorism needs to be reviewed
- PM lists increased jail sentences for convicted terrorists and additional cyberspace regulations as possible areas of policy change
- Terror threat remains at second-highest level of severe; UK election to go ahead on June 8
Just before 10:00pm on Saturday (local time), three assailants drove a van at pedestrians on London Bridge before getting out of the van in the bustling Borough Market area and stabbing a number of people.
All three attackers were shot dead by police within eight minutes of the first emergency call to officers.
Ms May said the attack — the third in Britain in as many months — was not connected to previous attacks in Westminster and Manchester, but that they were all part of the same trend.
“Five credible plots have been disrupted since March. We are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face as terrorism breeds terrorism,” she said.
“Perpetrators are inspired to attack … by copying one another and often using the crudest means of attack.
“We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are.”
@abcnews: “We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are”: Theresa May
Ms May used the address to declare she would take new action to stamp out terrorism, outlining “four important ways” she intended to do so.
The Prime Minister mentioned beefing up jail sentences for terrorism offences and additional cyberspace regulations as possible areas of policy change.
She listed four areas where she said change needed to take place.
The first was the fight against the “evil ideology” inspiring the repeated attacks, which she called a perversion of Islam and of the truth.
She said the fight could not be won through military intervention alone, adding that there was a need to defend “pluralistic British values” that were superior to anything offered by the “preachers of hate”.
A police forensics investigator works on London Bridge after the attack. (Reuters: Dylan Martinez)
Secondly, Ms May said, new regulations were needed to reduce the space available to extremists online.
“We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide,” she said.
“We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace.”
Thirdly, she said, more needed to be done to identify and stamp out extremism across British society.
The fourth area was the counter-terrorism strategy, which May said was robust but needed to be reviewed in light of the changing threat.
The attack was the third to hit Britain in quick succession after a similar incident on Westminster Bridge in March and a suicide bombing that killed 22 people at a pop concert in Manchester, northern England, less than two weeks ago.
Terror threat remains at severe, UK election to go ahead
The streets of London have seen an increased security presence following the attack. (Reuters: Peter Nicholls)
Britain’s Interior Minister Amber Rudd said Britain’s terror threat level, which currently stands at severe, had not been increased to its highest level of critical because authorities believed “that they have got all the main perpetrators”.
Ms May confirmed the UK election would go ahead on June 8 despite the attack.
She said campaigning had been suspended on Sunday as a mark of respect, but would resume on Monday.
“Violence can never be allowed to disrupt the democratic process, so those campaigns will resume in full tomorrow and the general election will go ahead as planned on Thursday,” Ms May said.
Ms May chaired a meeting of the Government’s emergency response committee COBRA before addressing the media from 10 Downing street.