Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

Magazine article The Spectator

Portrait of the Week

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Eight people were killed and 48 taken to hospital when three men, in a hire van travelling south shortly after 10 p.m. on Saturday, ran into pedestrians on London Bridge, then jumped out with knives and attacked people in pubs and restaurants around Borough Market. A policeman tackled one of the knifemen with a truncheon and was wounded. At 10.16 p.m., police firing 46 shots killed the men, who were wearing fake explosive vests with visible canisters. A bystander was wounded in the head by a police bullet. Police led people to safety and cleared a wide area. The Islamic State said it was behind the attack. Police named the murderers, two from Barking, East London, as Khuram Butt, aged 27, a British citizen born in Pakistan, and Rachid Redouane, aged 30, who had claimed to be Moroccan and Libyan. The third man, Youssef Zaghba, 22, a Moroccan-born Italian, had been arrested in Italy last year trying to get into Syria, and his name put on an EU-wide database. The ringleader, Butt, had featured in a Channel 4 documentary The Jihadis Next Door. Police arrested a dozen men and women in Barking but released them without charge. The Conservatives and Labour suspended their election campaigns for a day.

The morning after the attack, Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said: 'The general election will go ahead as planned.' She said 'enough is enough' and that we 'must not pretend that things can continue as they are'. She suggested four ways to change them: first she sought the defeat of 'an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam'; secondly she would seek 'international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning'; thirdly she wanted 'far more robust' action to stamp out 'tolerance of extremism in our country', which would 'require some difficult, and often embarrassing, conversations'; fourthly she wanted 'to make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need'.

The country went to the polls. One week earlier, the Conservative candidate for South Thanet was charged with over-spending in the 2015 campaign; he demanded of the Crown Prosecution Service and Kent police: 'Why leave this until a few days before the election? …

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