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PM plea for defence of 'values'

The best way to defend Britain's democratic values it to "repeat our faith" in them, David Cameron said today.

His thoughts were with the French people following the "appalling" events in Paris, he told business leaders at a conference in Manchester.

Speaking at the Old Granada TV Studios, the Prime Minister added: "Everyone's thoughts will be with the French people and will be thinking about the appalling events that happened yesterday in Paris.

"These are a challenge to our security because we have to fight this terrorism with everything we have.

"But they are also a challenge to our values and ... when it comes to security we must use every part or vigilance and security we have."

When it comes to values he said the best way to protect them was to "repeat our belief" in them.

He added: "We stand with them today in defending the values we all hold dear."

Asked about Ukip leader Nigel Farage's comments that pursuing a policy of multiculturalism had created a "fifth column" in our society, Mr Cameron said : "Today is not the day to make political remarks or arguments.

"Today is the day to stand four-square behind the French people."

He said Britain would do everything it could to help France "hunt down and find" those responsible for the killing of the 12 people during the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

He went on: "As countries in Europe, we share certain values, values we don't think are incidental to our success but that are a key part of our success as a free and open society.

"These values include freedom of speech, the right to disagree... the right to have a government under the rule of law."

Mr Cameron was in Manchester with the Chancellor George Osborne to talk about the economy and the long-term plan for the North West.

He said the UK could only have a strong economy if "no part of the country is left behind" and that he aspired to replicate the American model.

"We need a strong London but we need a northern powerhouse too," he added.

He said the North West had made good progress in recent years, on which the Government wanted to build.

Mr Cameron outlined a number of pledges in his speech, including the creation of 100,000 new jobs in the North West in the next parliament and the largest ever investment in transport - £4.5 billion to benefit the region.

He also promised to make the North East a "global centre" for science and raise the quality of life by building 25,000 new homes, improving schools and strengthening cultural and sporting opportunities.

In addition, he promised more power to the regions and to make people in the North West better-off by an average £2,000 in real terms by 2030.

The Union flags above Downing Street and several other Whitehall buildings were lowered to half mast as a mark of respect and Mr Cameron observed a silence during an event in Manchester.

Asked whether the British media was robust enough, he told reporters : "We have a vibrant, exciting, disputatious and sometimes infuriating press. Long may that be the case."


From Belfast Telegraph