Three terror attacks in three months, five plots foiled.

Standing on the steps of Downing Street, Theresa May said Britain was experiencing a new trend of “brutal terror”.

It was time for a more robust approach.

“Things need to change,” said the Prime Minister.

“(We) cannot and must not pretend things can continue as they are”.

Mrs May announced her plan: new international rules to deny terrorists safe spaces online; a review of terror laws; more custodial sentences for even trivial offences and a full-frontal assault on multiculturalism.

“We need to be frank, there is far too much tolerance of extremism in our country” – and that must be stamped out, said Mrs May.

“That will require some difficult and often embarrassing conversations, but the whole of our country needs to come together and take on this extremism and we need to live our lives not in a series of separate, segregated communities but as one truly United Kingdom.”

It was a similar tone to David Cameron’s landmark 2011 speech on extremism when he declared 30 years of multi-culturalism in Britain had bred “passive tolerance” of extremism, which in turn was fostering extremist ideology and contributing to home-grown extremism and terrorism.

That policy of “muscular liberalism” to enforce values of freedom of speech and equality and promote integration formed the basis of Mr Cameron’s anti-terrorism strategy – the Prevent programme to stop young Muslims from being radicalised. It was then home secretary Theresa May who was in charge of implementing that plan.

So what Mrs May was saying on the steps of Downing Street was nothing new and nothing that hadn’t been said before.

The London and Manchester terror attacks suggest the shape of the threat is escalating and has injected a new urgency into efforts to stamp out extremism – but Mrs May must stand on her record too, and explain where she felt the policies of her predecessor fell short.

Baroness Warsi, the former Conservative party chairman and first Muslim woman to serve in cabinet, told me today that the Prime Minister had a unique opportunity to effect the changes she and Mr Cameron struggled with in the past, with the Muslim community as keen as the Government to tackle extremism once and for all.

“The raging anger in Muslim communities is palpable and the desire to root out terrorism within their communities is strong,” Baroness Warsi said.

“The community is more determined than I have ever seen and the way to do this must be to devise a response to this which engages a broad range of British Muslim voices which are credible within and connected at the grassroots level to British Muslim communities.

“It can only be done by working together.”

On a day where all the parties – bar UKIP – have stepped down from national campaigning, Mrs May is the only leader who has been able to address the country and outline her plan for action.

For her opponents, now is not the moment to trade political blows, today is a day for national mourning for the seven so brutally killed, the 48 injured and their families.

But as former shadow chancellor Ed Balls said, you “can’t take politics out of reduced police numbers and control orders”.

Mrs May’s speech on the steps of Downing Street raised a number of questions.

And they must be answered in the coming days.

(c) Sky News 2017


This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.

No votes yet.
Please wait...