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Parties cancel General Election events after London Bridge terror attack

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn were understood to have spoken by phone following the incident.

Boris Johnson speaking at a press conference while on the General Election campaign trail (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Boris Johnson speaking at a press conference while on the General Election campaign trail (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Harriet Line, Richard Wheeler and Sophie Morris, PA Political Staff

Several General Election campaign events have been cancelled after a terrorist killed two people in a knife rampage in central London.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was due to campaign in the capital on Saturday, but is understood to have cancelled his planned events following the London Bridge attack.

Labour has scrapped an “NHS summit” which was due to be held in Yorkshire, and the Liberal Democrats will no longer go ahead with their Stop Brexit rally in London.

Both Labour and the Tories cancelled campaigning in the capital on Friday evening, and Mr Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn were understood to have spoken by phone following the incident.

Several people were stabbed by the knifeman before he was grappled to the ground and disarmed by members of the public on London Bridge. He was shot dead by police.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick confirmed two people died, and three others were injured.

Politicians paid tribute to the emergency services and the public for their response to the attack, during a seven-way election debate on the BBC.

The debate dealt with Brexit, the economy, the NHS and immigration, among other issues, although neither Mr Johnson nor Mr Corbyn were present.

On how Labour would pay for their plans, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said: “What we bring in in tax receipts, that’s what we spend on our public services – it’s simple as that.

“What we invest in critical infrastructure, we will borrow to invest.”

Treasury minister Rishi Sunak replied: “I can give you this commitment – that under the Conservatives, under our fully costed plans, the national debt at the end of the Parliament will be lower.

“Now all of that would be put at risk by what we’ve heard are Labour’s absolutely reckless spending plans.”

On Brexit, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said: “I’m sorry to have to say this, but we’re so not far along on this Brexit journey – we’re like in episode one of a 10-season box set, and if you don’t like what you’ve seen up to now, you don’t have to watch the rest.”

Ms Long-Bailey was challenged on whether she would support a new Brexit deal secured by Mr Corbyn, to which she replied: “MPs will choose how they want to vote on this, but in terms of my own personal position, I will wait to see what the deal looks like – if it’s an economically credible deal, whether it protects workers’ rights etc, etc.”

“What a cop out,” said Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice.

The politicians were also asked if they would use Britain’s nuclear weapons to defend the country if it was under nuclear attack.

Ms Long-Bailey said the protection of the British people is “paramount” for any PM, adding: “They would need to look at the circumstances and of course they would need to take action if necessary.”

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said “no, absolutely and emphatically not”.

The Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and Plaid Cymru’s Adam Price also took part in the debate.

Ahead of the debate, Mr Johnson told Brexit supporters they must vote Tory to prevent a “hung, broken Parliament” that cannot deliver their desires, as he attempted to shift the election focus back on to the EU.

The PM vowed on Friday that he would get the UK out of the bloc by January 31, “no ifs, no buts”, by bringing his deal back before Parliament before Christmas.

The Conservative leader’s comments alongside key Vote Leave allies in a Westminster press conference came after a poll suggested Brexit-backers hold the key to winning the December 12 election.

Flanked by senior Cabinet minister Michael Gove and former Labour MP Gisela Stuart, Mr Johnson warned voters that Brexit would be further “delayed, denied” if they do not deliver a Tory majority.

He said: “Our first move would be to bring the Withdrawal Agreement Bill back before Christmas, and then leave the EU on January 31.

“No ifs, no buts – we’ll get it done,” Mr Johnson added.

Meanwhile, the PM committed to “ensuring that the public sector buys British”, and to introducing a new state aid regime that would make it easier for the Government to intervene in ailing industries.

He also vowed to “take steps to ensure” his proposed Australian-style points-based immigration system “is in place” by January 1, 2021.

Ms Stuart said she will “vote for Brexit” by backing the Tories instead of her former party Labour.

She added: “I urge other Leave voters across the country to join me in voting for Brexit once more by voting for Boris Johnson on December 12, so that we can finish the job we have started, so that we can get Brexit done, and we can take back control.”

The press conference came after a powerful YouGov poll for The Times suggested the Tories are on course for a majority of 68, with Labour’s support interpreted as crumbling in Leave-backing seats.

According to the BBC, the research prompted Labour to shift its campaign strategy to shore up support in those areas, including its heartlands in the north of England and the Midlands.

Mr Johnson was also forced to defend himself live on air by a single mother who accused him of stigmatising her sons, who are now successful professionals, in articles written when he was a journalist.

He said his comments in the Spectator magazine in 1995 that children of single mothers were “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate” had been taken out of context.

PA

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