The United Kingdom prime minister has confirmed the general election will take place as planned on 8 June, despite another terrorist attack in London.
She made the statement after politicians agreed for the second time in two weeks to halt their election campaigns for grief and reflection in the aftermath of the deadly attack – and the issue of security vaulted back to the top of the political agenda.
That sentiment was echoed by opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said “those who wish to harm our people, divide our communities and attack our democracy will not succeed.”
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said “the remainder of this campaign must be a collective showing of defiance and pride in our democratic values”.
Campaigning was stopped after seven people were killed and almost 50 admitted to hospital in a vehicle and knife attack in the bustling London Bridge area on Saturday night. The election campaign was earlier halted for three days in the wake of the May 22 concert bombing in Manchester, in which 22 people were killed.
Only the right-wing U. Independence Party, who had no members of Parliament in the 650-seat House of Commons before the election was called, declined to pause campaigning. Leader Paul Nuttall said “I refuse to suspend campaigning because this is precisely what the extremists would want us to do”.
But even with campaigning suspended, May made a strongly-worded – and inevitably political – statement in front of her 10 Downing Street office, arguing that “things need to change” in the fight against international terrorism.
May said that Britain was facing a new threat from copycat attacks, and “it is time to say ‘enough is enough.'” She called for international agreements to curb online extremism, said longer jail sentences might be needed for terrorism offences and argued that there is “far too much tolerance of extremism in our country”.
After the Manchester attack, most analysts said that May was the politician most likely to benefit, because she is the incumbent leader and security is usually seen as a Conservative strength.
But opinion polls suggest the Conservatives’ once-commanding lead over Labour was narrowing even before the bombing and has continued to do so, after some lackluster campaigning and unpopular social-policy announcements from May.
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