The leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party will criticise Prime Minister Theresa May’s police cuts and Britain’s foreign policy on Friday, saying they increased the threat of terrorism, ending a political truce after the Manchester suicide attack. With a national election less than two weeks away, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn will use a speech to say Britain could not “be protected on the cheap” and that British involvement in foreign wars fuelled terrorism at home.
Britain’s political parties suspended campaigning for the June 8 election after Salman Abedi killed 22 people, including children, when he blew himself up on Monday night at the Manchester Arena indoor venue after a concert by U.S. singer Ariana Grande. May’s Conservatives are well ahead in the opinion polls, but before the attack the lead had been halved in some polls and she was forced to backtrack on a plan to force elderly people to pay more for their social care.
“No government can prevent every terrorist attack. If an individual is determined enough and callous enough sometimes they will get through,” Corbyn will say in a speech in London on Friday, according to extracts released to media. “But the responsibility of government is to minimise that chance – to ensure the police have the resources they need, that our foreign policy reduces rather than increases the threat to this country and that at home we never surrender the freedoms we have won and that terrorists are so determined to take away.” Corbyn had already pledged 10,000 extra police officers to reverse a decline in numbers resulting from cost-saving measures, many brought in by May in her former role as interior minister. Britain now has fewer officers than in 2001.
“To keep you and your family safe, our approach will involve change at home and change abroad,” Corbyn will say. “We cannot be protected and cared for on the cheap.” Corbyn, a socialist and veteran anti-war campaigner, said if he wins the election, he would shy away from the interventionist policy that has seen Britain join military action in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan in recent years. “Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home,” he will say.
“We must be brave enough to admit the ‘war on terror’ is simply not working. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism.”
That stance puts him not just at odds with May, who says he would put Britain’s security at risk if he won power, but also many in his own party such as former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair who led Britain into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and rejected accusations they had sparked terrorism at home.