UK politicians oppose calls to delay June 8 polls after second terror attack in a month | world-news | Hindustan Times
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UK politicians oppose calls to delay June 8 polls after second terror attack in a month

Online petition and some social media users urge Prime Minister Theresa May to postpone elections to focus on security but many, including leaders, oppose the idea that may send a wrong message

world Updated: Jun 04, 2017 22:33 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
British police officers walk with a detection dog after an attack in the London Bridge area of London.
British police officers walk with a detection dog after an attack in the London Bridge area of London. (AP PHOTO)

British political leaders defied calls to postpone the June 8 General Election after the country was hit by a second terror strike in less than a month on Saturday.

The appeals were made by certain people on social media and at least through one petition online.

“I’m quite sure a high percentage of the UK population agree that now is not the time to have a general election, after a second devastating attack I believe it is time to prioritise the safety of our country and it’s (sic) people, that’s why I ask you to call off the general election for the foreseeable future,” said a petition by one Mark Oxley on Change.org. The petition reached 185 backers within an hour of being created.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, opposed the idea.

“They (terrorists) want to stop us enjoying the freedoms that we have… they want to stop us voting on Thursday in the general election… we can’t allow them to do that”.

“I’m not an advocate of postponing the election, I’m a passionate believer in democracy … One of the things these terrorists hate is democracy”.

Alistair Campbell, former aide of Tony Blair, tweeted: “This close to an election it sends the wrong signal to announce a suspension of campaigning and the poll should certainly not be postponed”.

The campaign suspension Campbell referred to was announced by the two main parties, Conservative and Labour.

A representative for Prime Minister Theresa May said her Conservative party “will not be campaigning nationally today”.

Her arch-rival Jeremy Corbyn made a similar announcement. “The Labour party will be suspending national campaigning until this evening, after consultations with other parties, as a mark of respect for those who have died and suffered injury.”

The two parties had also halted campaigning for some days after the May 22 terror attack at the Manchester Arena, where a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured over 70.

There is a recent precedent to postpone a scheduled election. In 2001, then Prime Minister Tony Blair postponed polling from May 3 to June 7 due to an outbreak and concerns over foot-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom.

Prime Minister Theresa May was due to chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee (called ‘Cobra’), when the current threat level from international terrorism of ‘severe’ is expected to be reviewed.

The threat level was raised to ‘critical’ after the Manchester attack, but lowered soon to ‘severe’, which means a terror attack is highly likely.

Scotland Yard assistant commissioner Mark Rowley gave an account of Saturday incidents, and confirmed that six people died and three attackers were shot dead. Nearly 50 were reportedly being treated at various London hospitals.

“I’d like to repeat our request for the public to avoid the following areas: London Bridge and Borough Market. This is to allow emergency services to deal with this incident”, he said as the metropolis saw increased presence of police on Sunday.