British people have shown terrorists they “will not defeat us” by carrying on with their lives as normal after the “sickening” Westminster attack, Theresa May told the House of Commons on Thursday. The Prime Minister said Parliament was sending out the message following Wednesday’s attack by a knife-wielding terrorist that “we will never waver in the face of terrorism”.
An hour after MPs gathered at the usual time and stood for a minute’s silence in honour of the innocent people killed in the attack, Mrs May said the actions of millions around the country showed terrorists “we will never give in”.
In a show of defiance, the PM told a packed Commons chamber: “The greatest response lies not in the words of politicians, but in the everyday actions of ordinary people.”
“For beyond these walls today, in scenes repeated in towns and cities across the country, millions of people are going about their days and getting on with their lives.”
“The streets are as busy as ever, the offices full, the coffee shops and cafes bustling.”
“As I speak, millions will be boarding planes and aeroplanes to travel to London and to see for themselves the greatest city on Earth.”
“It is in these actions – millions of acts of normality – that we find the best response to terrorism.”
“A response that denies our enemies their victory, that refuses to let them win, that shows we will never give in.”
“A response driven by that same spirit that drove a husband and father to put himself between us and our attacker and to pay the ultimate price.”
“A response that says to the men and women who propagate this hate and evil ‘You will not defeat us’.”
“Mr Speaker, let this be the message from this House and this nation today. Our values will prevail.”
Mrs May said what happened on the streets of Westminster had “sickened us all” and paid tribute to Pc Keith Palmer, who died after being stabbed.
“He was every inch a hero and his actions will never be forgotten,” she said.
The PM said MPs were meeting as normal but also to make clear that freedom and democracy will never be defeated by terror.
“Yesterday an act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy, but today we meet as normal, as generations have done before us and as future generations will continue to do, to deliver a simple message: ‘We are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism’,” Mrs May said.
Mrs May revealed that the attacker was a British citizen who was known to the police and security services and had been investigated some years ago over violent extremism but added that he was a “peripheral figure” who was “not part of the current intelligence picture”.
She set out how events unfolded, telling MPs that the attacker drove his vehicle at speed into innocent pedestrians on Westminster Bridge at around 2.40pm, killing two people and injuring around 40 others.
The attacker then left the car and approached Pc Palmer at Carriage Gates, attacking him with a large knife, before he was shot dead by an armed police officer.
The victims admitted to hospital included 12 Britons, three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one German, one Pole, one Irish, one Chinese, one Italian, one American and two Greeks.
The injured also included three police officers who were returning from an event to recognise their bravery, two of whom are in a “serious condition”, she said.
Mrs May said the Government was in close contact with counterparts in all the countries affected.