NEWS

Jeremy Corbyn Condemns Theresa May's Police Cuts After London Bridge Terror Attack

Labour leader also backs ‘shoot-to-kill’ to protect nation.

04/06/2017 20:03 SAST | Updated 04/06/2017 21:57 SAST

Jeremy Corbyn has condemned Theresa May’s police cuts in a bruising assault on the Prime Minister less than 24 hours after the London Bridge terror attacks.

In a speech in Carlisle addressing the terror attack in London, the Labour leader will point to 20,000 police officers being cut and argue national security cannot be done “on the cheap”.

The robust comments are striking since Labour and the Conservative Party had suspended election campaigning following the terror rampage in the capital, which saw seven people killed and 48 injured.

The Tories have been seeking to exploit the Labour leader’s weakness, as they see it, on national security, having previously wavered on the shoot-to-kill policy and signalled he would not use the Trident nuclear deterrent.

But on Sunday, Corbyn said he would take “whatever action is necessary and effective to protect the security of our people”.

Earlier, Theresa May vowed “enough is enough” on Islamist terrorism as she signalled tougher counter-terrorism laws in the wake of the London Bridge attack.

Corbyn said: 

“Our priority must be public safety and I will take whatever action is necessary and effective to protect the security of our people and our country.

“That includes full authority for the police to use whatever force is necessary to protect and save life as they did last night, as they did in Westminster in March.

“You cannot protect the public on the cheap. The police and security services must get the resources they need, not 20,000 police cuts.

“Theresa May was warned by the Police Federation but she accused them of ‘crying wolf’.

“We will recruit another 10,000 new police officers, including more armed police, as well as 1,000 more security services staff to support our communities and help keep us safe.”

Corbyn also acknowledged Labour’s return to national campaigning, saying it would be “completely wrong ... to suspend our campaigning any longer”.

He said:

“The aim of the terrorists is plainly to derail our democracy and disrupt or even halt this election.

“The general election is of course about the argument between the Labour and Conservative parties and our very different visions and plans for the future of our country.

“But it is also now about something even bigger. It is about the struggle between terrorism and democracy itself.

“The mass murderers who brought terror to our streets in London and Manchester want our election to be halted. They want democracy halted. They want their violence to overwhelm our right to vote in a fair and peaceful election and to go about our lives freely.

“That is why it would be completely wrong to postpone next Thursday’s vote, or to suspend our campaigning any longer.”

Corbyn will also argue the UK must “resist Islamophobia and division” ahead of the vote, but also aim a jibe at the Government for connections to the Saudi, arguing: “We do need to have some difficult conversations starting with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that have funded and fuelled extremist ideology.”

PA Wire/PA Images

The Conservatives wasted little time in arguing Corbyn was trying to “run from his record on counter-terrorism policy”. Tory Security Minister Ben Wallace said:

“This was a hastily arranged speech designed to help Jeremy Corbyn run from his record on counter-terrorism policy, but it failed.

“He has boasted about opposing every single counter-terror law, opposed the use of shoot to kill, and gave cover to the IRA when they bombed and shot our citizens. Voters will judge him on his views and actions in the last 30 years, not his desperate promises and evasive soundbites three days out from polling day.

“There’s a clear choice at this election: Theresa May managing Brexit and delivering security for ordinary working families, or Jeremy Corbyn negotiating Brexit, Diane Abbott in charge of our national security, and John McDonnell in charge of our economy.”