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May: UK in grip of copycat terror attacks

The Prime Minister delivered a stark assessment of the threat facing the UK after seven people were murdered and dozens more injured by terrorists.

Theresa May has warned that Britain is in the grip of a spate of copycat terror attacks in the wake of the London Bridge atrocity.

The Prime Minister delivered a stark assessment of the threat facing the UK after seven people were murdered and dozens more injured by three terrorists on Saturday night.

It was the third terrorist outrage to hit the country this year following the Westminster and Manchester attacks.

Speaking outside Downing Street, Mrs May said that although there was no direct link between the three incidents, “terrorism breeds terrorism”.

The PM said: “This is, as we all know, the third terrorist attack Britain has experienced in the last three months.

“In March a similar attack took place just around the corner on Westminster Bridge. Two weeks ago the Manchester Arena was attacked by a suicide bomber and now London has been struck once more.

“And at the same time the security and intelligence agencies and police have disrupted five credible plots since the Westminster attack in March.

“In terms of their planning and execution, the recent attacks are not connected but we believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face.

“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.”

Mrs May warned that we “cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are”, saying changes were needed in four areas:

:: She said defeating the “evil” ideology of Islamist extremism is “one of the great challenges of our time” but stressed it “cannot be defeated by military intervention alone”.

:: She threw down the gauntlet to web giants and called for international agreements to regulate cyberspace, saying: “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.”

:: Mrs May also set out her determination to stamp out “safe spaces” that exist in the real world, saying: “There is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country”.

:: The PM said there was a need for Britain’s counter-terror strategy to be reviewed to ensure police and security services have all the powers they need, while she also raised the prospect of longer jail terms for terror-related offences, including those which are “apparently less serious”.

Police outside Downing Street
Armed police at the gates of Downing Street after a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mrs May said the UK has made “significant progress” in disrupting plots and protecting the public since the emergence of the threat from Islamist-inspired terrorism.

“But it is time to say ‘enough is enough’,” she added. “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.”

The major political parties suspended national election campaigning after the attack but Mrs May confirmed the poll would go ahead on Thursday.

She said: “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.

“As a country, our response must be as it has always been when we have been confronted by violence.

“We must come together, we must pull together, and united we will take on and defeat our enemies.”

Meanwhile in Barking, east London, there was an armed police operation, but Scotland Yard were unable to immediately confirm whether there was any link to the attacks.

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