(Bloomberg) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to review Britain’s security, defense and foreign policy in the wake of a terror attack on Friday, which killed two civilians, and ahead of a NATO summit that begins in London on Monday.
The attack has already interrupted this weekend’s campaigning for the Dec. 12 election and could influence the final result as voters turn their attention away from Brexit to issues of security. Johnson’s opponent, Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, said he didn’t agree that convicted terrorists always should serve out their full prison terms. He also accused governments of worsening the threat of such attacks and said the “war on terror has manifestly failed.”
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Johnson pledges Conservative government will make sure convicted terrorists serve their full prison sentencesJohnson plans a review of Britain’s security, defense and foreign policyLabour narrows Tory lead in four of five new opinion polls
Security Minister Says Hung Parliament Disrupted Tory Terror Policy (11:19 a.m.)
Security minister Brandon Lewis said the government would have already started the process of stopping the early release of convicted terrorists if it wasn’t for the U.K.’s hung parliament.
Speaking on BBC Radio’s “Pienaar’s Politics,” Lewis said “we’d already started making steps in that direction” but that “one of the problems with parliament being utterly frozen over Brexit” is that this kind of legislation is unable to pass.
The Conservative party won a majority in parliament in 2015, before losing it in 2017 and ruling in a minority government with support from the DUP. A number of resignations and expulsions over Brexit in 2019 further hampered the party’s ability to pass its legislation further.
Johnson Refuses to Take Blame for Previous Tory Policies (9:55 a.m.)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson sought to distance himself from decisions made by previous Conservative governments as he appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.
When pushed on the record of the Tories on law and order and spending since 2010, Johnson repeatedly said he’s only been prime minister since the summer, and that previous governments had to implement “prudent” management of public finances.
Johnson also said a government under him would invest more in the criminal justice system. He said about 74 convicted terrorists have been released early, and that they were now being “properly invigilated” in light of Friday’s attack.
Umunna Says Terror Attack Shouldn’t Be Politicized (9:32 a.m.)
Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesman Chuka Umunna criticized the two main parties for turning the terrorist attack into a “political football,” saying instead the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats should all accept at least some blame for creating the current justice system because they have all been in government over the last two decades.
Umunna, who quit Labour to join the Lib Dems this year, said the focus should be “on properly funding the parole board and the probation service.”
Raab Says He Takes Nothing for Granted (9:25 a.m.)
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who may be facing a tight race to maintain his seat in Parliament, said he’s taking nothing for granted before the Dec. 12 vote.
Speaking on Sky’s “Sophy Ridge on Sunday,” Raab said the closeness of the polls in his constituency shows the risk of a hung Parliament, and that voting Conservative was the only way to avoid such an outcome.
Former Adviser Says Ministers Ignored Warnings (8:50 a.m.)
A prison expert said he warned in 2016 that the parole system couldn’t cope with terrorists, but the government ignored his findings.
Writing in the Sunday Times, Ian Acheson, who was hired to advise ministers on the dangers of Islamic extremists in prisons, said he sent then-Justice Secretary Michael Gove a list of 69 recommendations, of which 68 were accepted. However, when the government’s report was published, under a new minister Liz Truss, it was weakened so only a fraction of the recommendations remained, including none of those about the probation service.
Corbyn Declines to Say How He’d Vote in 2nd Referendum (8:40 a.m.)
In the Sky interview, Corbyn avoided saying how he would vote in the second Brexit referendum that he’s promised if Labour wins the election.
Corbyn also said the party apologized and regretted any antisemitism anyone’s suffered and that he wished “our party had acted on it more rapidly.” Earlier in the week, Corbyn had repeatedly declined to apologize to Jewish people for the behavior of some in his party.
Corbyn Won’t Rule Out Early Release for Terrorists (8:30 a.m)
Corbyn said convicted terrorists should not necessarily serve out their full prison terms and pledged to increase spending on the prison service. On Friday, a convicted terrorist who was released early from prison killed two people and injured three others in an attack near London Bridge. Usman Khan had been a guest at a conference on prisoner rehabilitation when he started attacking other delegates.
“It depends on the circumstances; it depends on the sentence, but crucially it depends on what they’ve done in prison,” he said in an interview on Sky’s “Sophy Ridge on Sunday.” He said he understood that the Parole Board was not involved in Khan’s early release and there was no probation service involvement in monitoring him.
While Johnson pledged that a Conservative government would ensure convicted terrorists weren’t eligible for early release, Corbyn said he wanted to instead focus on increasing spending for the prison service and ensure anyone up for early release has a psychological assessment to see if they are a threat.
“Our probation service was half privatized, is not up to scratch, is not able to deal with the number of cases they have to deal with and a lot of prisoners are simply put on a tag, or ex-prisoners rather, put on a tag which if they breach clearly the police are alerted.
Corbyn Says Foreign Policy Has Worsened Terror Risk (Earlier)
In a speech in York later Sunday, Corbyn will say the “war on terror has manifestly failed,” and that actions by governments have worsened the threat of attacks.
The Labour leader will praise the response of police officers, and say they were right to use lethal force on Friday and say nothing can “absolve terrorists of blame for their murderous action,”. But he’ll also warn that for too long the U.K.’s “leaders have made the wrong calls on our security.”
“The threat of terrorism cannot and should not be reduced to questions of foreign policy alone,” he will add, according to extracts released by the Labour Party. “But too often the actions of successive governments have fueled, not reduced that threat.”
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