The opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn launched a scathing attack on the Prime Minister Theresa May’s terror record less than a day after terrorists slaughtered seven people and injured dozens more in a strike on the heart of London.
The Labour leader accused the Prime Minister of denying resources in the fight against terror and said she cut police manpower by 20,000 despite warnings this would undermine safety.
He promised to recruit an additional 10,000 officers and 1,000 security service agents if he wins power on June 8.
In a speech in Carlisle, Mr Corbyn also appeared to U-turn his position on police “shoot-to-kill” tactics against armed attackers, saying that he backed the “full authority for the police to use whatever force is necessary to protect and save life as they did last night”.
Seven people died and 48 were injured on Saturday night when three attackers drove a white van into pedestrians on London Bridge before going on a knife rampage through Borough Market.
Speaking as the brief pause in campaigning came to an end, Mr Corbyn said: “Our priority must be public safety and I will take whatever action is necessary and effective to protect the security of our people and our country.
“That includes full authority for the police to use whatever force is necessary to protect and save life as they did last night, as they did in Westminster in March.”
Criticising Mrs May’s record, he said: “You cannot protect the public on the cheap. The police and security services must get the resources they need, not 20,000 police cuts.
Mr Corbyn also said that the PM must also be ready to have difficult discussions with close ally and major arms customer Saudi Arabia about terror funding.
He cited the delayed publication of an investigation commissioned by David Cameron into the foreign funding of extremist Islamist groups, which is reported to focus on the Gulf kingdom.
“We do need to have some difficult conversations, starting with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that have funded and fuelled extremist ideology,” said Mr Corbyn.
Earlier in the day, Mrs May set out a four-pronged strategy to tackle terror by countering radical ideology; clamping down on online extremism; preventing the growth of segregated communities; and giving extra powers to police, security agencies and courts.
The PM’s comments sparked complaints from Labour that she was getting involved in political debate on a day when the parties had agreed to halt election campaigning until the evening.
Conservative security minister Ben Wallace said Mr Corbyn’s speech was “hastily arranged” and “designed to run from his record on terror policy” with “desperate promises and evasive soundbites”.