Saturday 19 August 2017

May faces calls to quit over police cuts

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks outside 10 Downing Street after an attack on London Bridge and Borough Market left 7 people dead and dozens injured. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Coombs
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks outside 10 Downing Street after an attack on London Bridge and Borough Market left 7 people dead and dozens injured. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

David Hughes

Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May have been involved in bitter exchanges as the political fallout from the London Bridge terrorist attack dominated the UK general election campaign.

The Labour leader backed calls for the prime minister to quit over her record as home secretary when police numbers fell by almost 20,000, while Mrs May lashed out at Mr Corbyn over his opposition to counter-terrorism measures.

Mrs May also questioned Mr Corbyn's fitness to represent the UK in the crucial Brexit talks as she sought to return the focus of the election back onto the thorny issue of leaving the European Union.

Asked by ITV News if he backed calls for Mrs May to resign, Mr Corbyn said: "Indeed I would, because there's been calls made by a lot of responsible people on this who are worried she was at the Home Office for all this time, presided over these cuts in police numbers and is now saying that we have a problem - yes, we do have a problem, we should never have cut the police numbers."

His comments came after Steve Hilton, a former adviser to David Cameron, said Mrs May was "responsible for security failures" and "should be resigning, not seeking re-election".

The Labour leader later clarified his views, stressing it was a matter for the electorate whether to oust Mrs May: "I'm not backing away from anything, what I'm saying is there's an election on now there's a choice before everybody.

"I'm articulating what is a deep anger amongst those people that have seen 20,000 police officers lose their jobs, seen firefighters lose their jobs, seen ambulance crews unable to cope. [Mrs May] needs to think about what she did while she was home secretary."

Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron accused Mrs May of failing in her duty to keep the UK safe.

"On one of the most important tests facing us as a country - security - Theresa May has failed as both prime minister and home secretary. She has failed by cutting police numbers," he said. "Cutting police numbers is the most sure way of keeping us less safe."

But Mrs May defended her record as the Tories hit out at Labour over Mr Corbyn's record on tackling terrorism.

A man prepares to lay flowers at a police cordon near Borough Market, London. Photo: Getty
A man prepares to lay flowers at a police cordon near Borough Market, London. Photo: Getty

The Conservative Party's official Twitter account said "the shoot-to-kill policy saves British lives - Jeremy Corbyn opposes it".

Mr Corbyn insisted his comments on shoot-to-kill had been taken out of context and he backed the police to take the "necessary action" where lives were at risk.

Facing repeated questions about her record after a speech in London, Mrs May said: "I have been responsible for giving the police extra powers to deal with terrorism.

"Jeremy Corbyn has boasted that he has opposed those powers and opposed the powers for anti-terror actions throughout his time in parliament. And I also support, absolutely, shoot-to-kill and I think what we saw on our streets on Saturday was how important that was."

She said that since 2015 police budgets had been protected "despite the fact that Jeremy Corbyn's frontbench suggested that police budgets should be cut by up to 10pc".

Irish Independent

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