Corbyn and May clash over security in wake of London attack

Prime minister dodges questions about police cuts amid calls for resignation

Britain's terror threat level will remain at "severe" after militants killed seven people and injured 48 in London, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday (June 6), describing the assault as an attack on the free world.

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have traded accusations over security in the wake of Saturday's attack in London, with the Labour leader saying the prime minister should resign because she ignored warnings about cutting police numbers.

During her six years as home secretary, Ms May cut police numbers by 20,000 and reduced the number of armed officers.

Steve Hilton, a former adviser to David Cameron, on Monday called for the prime minister to resign and Mr Corbyn said he agreed.

“Indeed I would. There have been calls made by a lot of responsible people on this who are very worried that she was at the Home Office for all this time, presided over these cuts in police numbers and now saying we have a problem,” he said.


In a speech in London on Monday, the prime minister returned to her core message of the campaign, contrasting her leadership with that of Mr Corbyn. She said that only she could secure a good deal for Britain as it left the EU and attacked the Labour leader’s record on security.

“In this election there is one leader who has made it his life’s ambition to get rid of Trident, and one who is committed to keeping it. One leader who has boasted about opposing every single counter-terror law, and one who has been responsible for passing them. One leader who has opposed the use of shoot-to-kill, and given cover to the IRA when they bombed and shot our citizens – and who now, in the midst of an election campaign, wants to do all he can to hide or deny those views. That’s not leadership. It’s an abdication of leadership,” she said.

Ms May dodged questions from reporters about her record of cutting police numbers but London's mayor Sadiq Khan later accused her of planning to cut the Metropolitan Police budget by £1.7 billion over the next decade.

“We are not receiving the sort of funding we need as a capital city,” he said.

Winter fuel allowance

Labour on Monday night claimed that the Conservatives’ proposal to means test a pensioners’ winter fuel allowance would lead to almost 4,000 more old people dying this winter. Labour claimed that research showed that the allowance was responsible for half of the fall in winter deaths since it was introduced.

The Conservatives sought to move the focus to Brexit for the final days of the campaign, promising to establish a new Board of Trade to promote British exports after Brexit. A network of trade commissioners in nine different parts of the world would be tasked with promoting trade and seeking inward investment in a way that benefits all parts of the UK.

Speaking in the northeast on Tuesday, foreign secretary Boris Johnson will claim that only Ms May can deliver the "huge potential" of Brexit for Britain.

“We believe it is this country’s destiny to engage not just with our friends and partners in the EU but with the whole of the rest of the world – the 93 per cent of humanity that does not live in the EU, as well as with the EU,” he is expected to say.

“If we are to make the most of that opportunity then we need the right economic policies. And it makes me shudder to think that we could seriously be about to elect a Corbyn-led coalition that would impose destructive new taxes on businesses, on homes, on gardens – at the very moment when we could be about to go forward with ‘global Britain’.”

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times