Prime minister Theresa May says there is ‘far too much tolerance of extremism’ in UK and suggests increased prison terms for terror offences
Theresa May has warned that there has been “far too much tolerance of extremism” in the UK and promised to step up the fight against Islamist terrorism following the London Bridge attack, saying “enough is enough”.
The prime minister struck a sombre and serious tone as she spoke outside No 10 on Sunday morning after chairing a meeting of the Cobra committee following the attack in the centre of the capital in which seven people were killed.
She said internet companies must not allow extremism a place to exist, but that there was also a need to tackle “safe spaces in the real world”, which would require “difficult” conversations.
May also suggested the idea of increased prison terms for terrorism offences, even relatively minor ones.
Islamist militancy was the thread that linked the otherwise unconnected attacks in London Bridge, Westminster and Manchester, she said.
“It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth,” she said. “Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time. But it cannot be defeated through military intervention alone.”
Attackers drove van into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing people in Borough Market
She continued: “It is time to say enough is enough. Everybody needs to go about their lives as they normally would. Our society should continue to function in accordance with our values. But when it comes to taking on extremism and terrorism, things need to change.”
May said the recent spate of attacks showed the UK was “experiencing a new trend in the threat we face”.
She said: “As terrorism breeds terrorism and perpetrators are inspired to attack, not only on the basis of carefully constructed plots after years of planning and training, and not even as lone attackers radicalised online, but by copying one another and often using the crudest of means of attack.”
May said action was needed in the UK as well as overseas. She said: “While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said his party would resume campaigning on Sunday evening, and to delay any longer would obstruct democracy.
He told Sky News: “We won’t be campaigning nationally during today, but we’ll be resuming later on. I think it’s important to give a message that democracy must prevail. If we allow these attacks to disrupt our democratic process then we will all lose.”
Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: “The election must go ahead as planned. It is right that we suspend our national campaigning for a short while out of respect for those affected by these tragic events, but local campaigning can and must continue.”
Rudd said it was presumed the three attackers, all of whom were shot dead by police, were “radical Islamist terrorists”, and authorities needed “to find out more about where this radicalisation came from”.
The home secretary said there did not seem to be any link to the Manchester attack on 22 May. But she said she could not comment on whether any of the attackers were previously known to authorities.
“The operation is ongoing so we are finding out more about who these three are,” she said.