ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Westminster attack which left four dead and dozens injured. The terror group said a ‘soldier of the Islamic State’ carried out the atrocity in which British-born Khalid Masood ploughed a car through crowds near Parliament yesterday afternoon. A statement by the ISIS news agency Amaq said: ‘The perpetrator of the attacks yesterday in front of the British parliament in London is an Islamic State soldier and he carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of the coalition.’ But it gave no name or other details and it was not clear whether the attacker was directly connected to the group. The carnage was unleashed on the same day Brussels was marking the anniversary of a wave of ISIS suicide bombings that killed 32 people.
A former senior London police officer has raised concerns that there was a “reduction” in the number of armed guards at the gates of Parliament where the Westminster attacker struck. Peter Kirkham pointed to reports that the officer who gunned down attacker Khalid Masood was the personal bodyguard of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, who it is claimed was only on the scene coincidentally. His intervention raises questions over whether the knifeman who stabbed and killed unarmed PC Keith Palmer on Wednesday, may have killed more had the bodyguard not been on hand. It also comes against a backdrop of a 25 per cent fall in the number of Metropolitan Police firearms officers since 2010. After Prime Minister Theresa May stood in the House of Commons and told how the Government has boosted police spending, former Met senior investigating officer Mr Kirkham refuted her claim.
The Prime Minister has said it is “wrong” to describe the terror attack on Westminster Bridge and Parliament on Wednesday as “Islamic terrorism”. Following her statement in the House of Commons on Thursday morning Theresa May was asked by Conservative MP Michael Tomlinson whether she agreed that the term was inappropriate. He asked her: “It is reported that what happened yesterday was an act of ‘Islamic terror’. “Will the Prime Minister agree with me that what happened was not Islamic, just as the murder of Airey Neave was not Christian, and that in fact both are perversions of religion?” Ms May replied that she believed it was not right to use the term, suggesting that such ideology was “perversion”. “I absolutely agree, and it is wrong to describe this as ‘Islamic terrorism’,” she said. “It is ‘Islamist terrorism’, it is a perversion of a great faith.”
Police have confirmed a 75-year-old man has died in hospital after his life support machine was switched off on Thursday evening. Scotland Yard said he had been “receiving medical treatment in hospital” but his life support was withdrawn on Thursday evening. The force added that his next of kin have been informed and are receiving support from specially trained family liaison officers. He is the fourth innocent victim of the attack to die. Pc Keith Palmer, married mother-of-two Aysha Frade and American tourist Kurt Cochran were also killed. The attacker, Khalid Masood, was shot dead by armed officers.
Yesterday’s attacker was three unlocked doors away from the Prime Minister and would have had a free run at the House of Commons and its two voting lobbies had he not been shot by Michael Fallon’s SO1 officer. Guido has spoken to several parliamentary sources who have corroborated the following:
1. Had the attacker not been shot, and if he knew where to go, he could have turned right into the Members’ Entrance. This Entrance is usually patrolled by armed police and guarded by an unarmed doorkeeper. No armed police officers were there at the time of the attack. Had Fallon not been in the building, his security detail would not have been there either.
2. Once through the Member’s Entrance, the attacker would have found a likely empty corridor. He could have followed the route marked in red, passing through three unlocked doors until he reached the Members’ Lobby. A parliamentary source says: “There are no physical obstacles along this route. It is used by Cabinet members because they don’t encounter members of the public and can immediately vote and quickly leave”. There are no locked doors and he would not have needed a pass to reach a large number of MPs.
3. From Members’ Lobby he could have made it to the Commons voting lobbies, where Theresa May and other MPs were gathered at the time of the attack. There are no armed police protecting this route, only doorkeepers.
Yesterday’s attacker was yards away from the Prime Minister, ministers and other MPs. Had Fallon’s SO1 officer not been in the right place at the right time, he would have had a free run. A parliamentary source says: “If this was an elite terrorist with an automatic gun and a floor plan he could have wiped out many MPs”. This security angle is currently causing huge concern on the parliamentary estate…
Brexit is “a failure and a tragedy”, the president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has said. The EU’s most senior civil servant promised that Brussels would approach the negotiation of Britain’s withdrawal in a “friendly” and fair way, but warned that European institutions were not “naive” about the process. He confirmed that the UK would be presented with a bill for leaving, but insisted this did not represent a punishment, but merely the settling of commitments made by the UK. He did not put a figure on the bill, which reports suggest could amount to as much as €60bn (£52bn), to cover liabilities for projects that the UK previously agreed to help fund, as well as pensions for EU officials who served during the period of its membership. Speaking to the BBC, Juncker said: “It will be a bill reflecting former commitments by the British government and by the British parliament. There will be no sanctions, no punishment, nothing of that kind.”
Italy will deploy drones along with thousands of police, soldiers and snipers to protect European leaders as they converge on Rome tomorrow to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the European Union. Italy strengthened its security after the attack in London, which prompted an outpouring of sympathy and solidarity from allies across Europe and beyond. Five marches and rallies, some violently anti-EU, are planned in Italy, providing an additional headache for officials. The number of police in attendance was raised from 3,000 to 5,000, along with 1,000 soldiers, including snipers, and a fleet of Italian air force drones.
The prospect of the EU demanding tens of billions of pounds from the UK in return for a Brexit deal has been raised by the bloc’s chief negotiator. Michel Barnier used a speech to outline his priorities for handling the divorce – with the process set to be formally started on 29 March when Theresa May triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to confirm the UK’s intentions. He said the first issue to tackle, in what he hoped would be an “orderly withdrawal”, was to end uncertainty over the fate of 4.5 million EU citizens in Britain and vice versa by determining their residency rights. But Mr Barnier said Britain would have to pay for its previous financial commitments to Brussels before any talks could begin on the future, which he hoped would include a new free trade deal.
It would seem that the EU’s delusional demand for a mega bucks payout from the UK isn’t pure fantasy, with Germany’s EU Commissioner admitting that the figure of €60 billion is “not totally wrong”. Speaking to Euractiv, Gunther Oettinger said that: “We are checking all the finances again. But I think €60 billion is not totally wrong”. This is significant as Oettinger is the EU’s Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources. It is clear then that the EU’s demand for a pie-in-the-sky ‘divorce’ settlement is an ambition that it intends to pursue. Once again, the government must show grit in these negotiations. For the UK, still paying huge net contributions to the Brussels budget now, paying a tens of billions lump sum would be completely unacceptable. If the EU want to demand ridiculous amounts of money, no need for a deal. We can walk out quite happily.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Friday that the European Union was trying to limit the negative effects of Brexit for Britain but stressed that countries wanting to get the benefits related to the bloc had to make commitments, too. “We need to find a fair path – if Britain still wants to have good access to the single market, it has to take on the corresponding commitments and if it doesn’t want that, then there will be a separation – that’s a shame for Britain,” Schaeuble told Deutschlandfunk radio station. “We’re trying to keep the disadvantages as small as possible but it’s clear that the rest of Europe must not be contaminated by it,” he said.
BREXIT trade chief Dr Liam Fox yesterday confirmed plans to take back control of trade policy from Brussels – as revealed by The Sun. Challenged by Labour on our exclusive, the Trade Secretary signalled a new law was coming in the Queen’s Speech that would transfer the power to collect tariffs back to Britain. The move will also make Britain ready to strike new trade deals from the day we leave the EU. Mr Fox said the “very important” bill would be accompanied with a “consultative process so that stakeholders would be able to make their views known”. Asked about the plans in the Commons yesterday, he added: “I think it’s important that we do that in a very collegiate way because I think that is the way to maintain and maximise confidence.” The move is seen as another ratcheting up in the war of words with Brussels ahead of formal Brexit negotiations.
CLAIMS that Winston Churchill would have wanted Britain to pay a £52 billion exit fee to the EU have been completely ridiculed. The “ludicrous” claim was made in a speech by the European Commissioner’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier as he tried to play hardball over the forthcoming Brexit talks. But he was lambasted by senior Tory MP Peter Bone who laughed when he heard Mr Barnier’s suggestion and reposted that Britain’s wartime leader would have demanded Britain’s £184 billion back from the EU and “not paid a penny to leave” a senior Tory MP has claimed. The Wellingborough Conservative MP who led the Brexit campaign group Grassroots Out said: “Actually if Winston Churchill had had his way we wouldn’t have even joined the EU.“He wanted a union of nations on the continent not for Britain to be part of it.” The Tory MP was touching on the false claims regularly made by Remoaners and figures in Brussels that Churchill would have wanted britain to remain in the EU and was a pioneer of its creation.
March for Europe
Rival pro-EU campaign groups are sending out mixed messages about whether a planned anti-Brexit demonstration will go ahead in London on Saturday. The March for Europe had long been planned to assemble at Park Lane, moving to Westminster – seeking to emulate a demonstration after the referendum last summer attended by tens of thousands of people. However the European Movement, which is chaired by former Tory MP Stephen Dorrell, has told its supporters to stay away at the last minute because of the burden that the march might place on police in the aftermath of Wednesday’s terror attack. “In discussions with the police it has been made clear to us that although they will not prevent the march going ahead, it represents an enormous burden at a time when they need to concentrate on the investigation into the terrorist attack in Westminster,” Mr Dorrell said in a message to the group’s email list.
Motorists may be at risk of skidding on a quarter of roads amid an alarming deterioration in the highways network. Official figures show that 26 per cent of A-roads in England and Wales need “further investigation” because of fears that they have an inadequate skid resistance when drivers brake. It was the highest level since records began in 2007-8. London had the worst main roads in the country, with 45 per cent of surfaces deemed to be in a poor condition, according to the Department for Transport (DfT). The findings follow complaints from councils that a lack of funding has left them struggling to fill potholes, with an estimated 14-year backlog in highway road repairs, at a cost of £14 billion.
A millionaire former donor to the UK Independence Party and David Cameron’s ex-policy guru are joining forces to try to unseat 100 Remain-supporting MPs at the next general election, The Telegraph can disclose. Arron Banks, the insurance millionaire, will unveil plans in May to help fund independent candidates to stand against MPs who he feels have failed their local constituents. Mr Banks said he had held talks about his campaign with Steve Hilton, who was Mr Cameron’s policy adviser when he was in Downing Street. Mr Hilton has launched his Crowdpac funding campaign in the UK last summer to “help more independent – and independent-minded – people stand for office, whether at the local or national level”.Mr Banks, who gave £1million to Ukip before the last general election, told this week’s Chopper’s Brexit Podcast he had dubbed it a “drain the swamp” strategy.
MINISTERS should intervene and cap gas and electricity prices, union reps demanded yesterday as a new study shows that bills have soared by up to a third. Before it ceased trading last November, GB Energy’s gas bills rose by 26 per cent, while its electricity bills rose by 32 per cent. Electricity tariffs from Flow shot up by 18 per cent, while npower’s and SSE’s rose by 15 per cent, and E.ON bills by 14 per cent, according to figures gathered by general union GMB. Among gas suppliers, LoCO2 has put prices up by 10 per cent, First Utility by 9 per cent and Bristol Energy by 6 per cent. The union, which represents energy workers, claimed the figures show that energy companies are in “real trouble.”
KIM Jong-un is in the final stages of launching the most devastating weapon in his arsenal, the hydrogen bomb, US officials believe. An unnamed military source confirmed both the US and South Korea are monitoring the Punggye-ri nuclear test site on the east coast, ahead of a potential firing. This comes as a chilling warning to the western world, as the dastardly dictator claimed to have successfully tested a H-Bomb at that site last year. Speaking by phone, the official confirmed the hermit state could launch a missile at Kim’s will. He added: “North Korea is ready to carry out a nuclear test at any time, depending on the leadership’s decision. “We are keeping a close eye on its nuclear activities.” North Korea has launched four missiles this year, and is developing an ICBM capable of striking US heartland.
SCIENTISTS claim a fault line is a lot more active than first thought – and could cause an area of California to sink. The notorious Newport-Inglewood fault – along which thousands live – is due a massive earthquake, according to new research. And if a massive tremor took hold, it could cause large parts of the land to plummet straight into the sea. Robert Leeper, who worked on the study as a California State Fullerton student and geologist with the US Geological Survey, said: “It’s not just a gradual sinking. “This is boom — it would drop. It’s very rapid sinking.” The team were initially looking for clues to tsunamis when they stumbled upon prehistoric remains of salt marshes that would have one day been higher than sea level. They dropped after a large earthquake struck along the fault – and believe the same could happen again. These previously unrecorded, prehistoric quakes were far larger and more devastating than the 1933 earthquake which killed 160.