London Bridge attacks: Political debate must go on, our democracy cannot be derailed by terrorism

Christian May
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Forensic tests were carried out at the scene of the latest terrorist attack on UK soil (Source: Getty)

Just two weeks on from the Manchester bombing and Prime Minister Theresa May was back on the steps of Downing Street, addressing the nation in the wake of another appalling terrorist attack.

This time, terrorists began their slaughter in the City of London, rampaging south over London Bridge and into Southwark where the killing continued on foot.

Just eight minutes after the first 999 calls were made, armed police had raced to Borough Market and fired 50 bullets into three attackers. It was an unbelievably swift response. As the PM said in her remarks yesterday morning, “the police responded with great courage and great speed.”

The political response, however, has not been so clear-cut. May was criticised for announcing a review of counter-terrorism policy in her statement, despite the campaign having been suspended until today. Labour party officials were furious, accusing the PM of breaking an agreed truce.

Read more: Tech giants respond after PM accuses them of providing "safe space" for terrorists

It's true that May's speech was political, but how could it not be? It wasn't a mistake to address complex political issues in her statement, but it was a mistake to do so having supposedly suspended the election campaign. When confronted in such a brutal way by a violent ideology, any response will be political. It must be, regardless of whether an election campaign is underway or not. This is no time for Queensberry rules.

This newspaper joined others in the aftermath of the Manchester attack in calling for the continuation of political debate. What was true then was true on Sunday morning: politics is never more relevant than after an attack of this sort and democracy is never more valuable than when it's being threatened by terror.

Jeremy Corbyn was entirely right when he said last night that “the mass murderers who brought terror to our streets...want our election to be halted, they want democracy halted.”

Britain goes to the polls this week and we shall do so despite the violence and the heartache inflicted on us by our enemies. A great democratic exercise will serve as a collective response to those who would see us weakened and afraid.

The debate that accompanies this process may be difficult, controversial and even distressing – but considering the threats we face, it is also absolutely necessary.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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