British PM vows to strengthen prison sentences after London attack

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Cars, buses and lorries remain in position as police officer stands guard inside a cordon on the south side of London Bridge in the City of London, on December 1, 2019, following the November 29 deadly terror incident. (AFP)
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Members of the public walk past police vans, blocking off the south side entrance to London Bridge in the City of London, on December 1, 2019, following the November 29 deadly terror incident.(AFP)
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A photograph of the first victim to be named, Jack Merritt, is pictured among floral tributes left close to London Bridge in the City of London, on December 1, 2019, following the November 29 deadly terror incident. (AFP)
Updated 01 December 2019

British PM vows to strengthen prison sentences after London attack

  • law and order has raced to the top of the election agenda after Usman Khan, wearing a fake suicide vest and wielding knives, killed two people
  • Johnson’s Conservatives have long championed tough police and prison measures

LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday he would strengthen prison sentences, vowing to boost security after an attack in the British capital by a man convicted of terrorism who was released early from prison.
With less than two weeks before Britain heads to the polls, law and order has raced to the top of the election agenda after Usman Khan, wearing a fake suicide vest and wielding knives, killed two people on Friday before being shot dead by police.
Johnson’s Conservatives have long championed tough police and prison measures, but opposition parties have criticized the governing party for overseeing almost a decade of cuts to public services.
Trying to distance himself from those cuts, Johnson said if he won the Dec. 12 election he would invest more money in the prison system and make sentences tougher.
“We are going to bring in tougher sentences for serious sexual and violent offenders and for terrorists,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.
“I absolutely deplore the fact that this man was out on the street, I think it was absolutely repulsive and we are going to take action.”
He was keen to portray his rival for prime minister, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, as being weak on crime, blaming the opposition party for bringing in a law that automatically released some prisoners early when it was in government.
Corbyn, a veteran peace campaigner, said he believed convicted terrorists should “not necessarily” serve their full prison terms, suggesting it would depend on the nature of their sentence and also how they had behaved in prison.
“It depends on the circumstances, it depends on the sentence, but crucially it depends on what they’ve done in the prison,” Corbyn told Sky News.
Despite criticizing cases where police and the army were accused of operating a shoot-to-kill policy in Northern Ireland, the Labour leader said the police had no choice but to shoot the attacker dead.

INVESTIGATION
Khan’s attack on a Friday on London Bridge stirred memories of Britain’s last election in 2017, when three militants drove a van into pedestrians in the same part of the capital and attacked people, killing eight and injuring at least 48.
Khan’s rampage was brought to an end, in part, because of bystanders, who wrestled him to the ground before the police shot him dead. So far the police have found no evidence to suggest Khan was working with others.
Queen Elizabeth expressed her “enduring thanks to the police and emergency services, as well as the brave individuals who put their own lives at risk to selflessly help and protect others.”
Three people remain in hospital, two of them in a stable condition, after Friday’s attack. The third person is suffering from less serious injuries.
The attack brought a somber tone to what has often been an ill-natured election campaign, which is presenting voters with a stark choice — Labour’s promise to raise taxes on the rich and businesses to fund a much expanded state or the Conservatives’ pledge to “get Brexit done” and move onto other issues.
While Corbyn’s team struck a moderate tone, with his top legal policy adviser Shami Chakrabarti questioning whether it was the time to make “knee-jerk” policy changes, Johnson again said only he could deliver Brexit, allowing Britain to move on to reforms such as to the criminal justice system.
“Obviously, I think we should be investing more in the criminal justice system,” said Johnson.
“What we are doing now, under this new one nation Conservative administration, (is) we are investing ... It is new in our approach and it is new in the way we will tackle the issue of public services.”


LIVE: Davos 2020 Day One - Thunberg slams elites, Trump hails US economic rebound

Updated 22 min 27 sec ago

LIVE: Davos 2020 Day One - Thunberg slams elites, Trump hails US economic rebound

  • Discussion panels featuring a number of high profile figures from the political, business and civil world.
  • Environment and climate issues on agenda, but Iran and Lebanon expected to feature heavily

The World Economic Forum 2020 started on Tuesday in Davos in Switzerland. Greta Thunberg kicked off the three day forum in a panel discussion on Sustainable Path towards a Common Future.

There will be discussion panels featuring a number of high profile figures from the political, business and civil world.

They will discuss a wide range of subjects including the environment and climate issues, but Iran and Lebanon are expected to feature heavily.

Follow Arab News’ coverage below

13:45 - Bollywood superstar and mental health ambassador Deepika Padukone has a very honest and inspiring conversation with World Health Organization's director-general about her own experiences with mental illness and how the stigma surrounding it can be ended...

In 2017, Padukone spoke vividly about her struggle with depression and the stigma that surrounded it. She also described how she decided to speak out, so others wouldn't have to suffer in the same way she did. Watch the Crystal Awardee speaking earlier at Davos:

13:00 - Saudi Arabia's Minister for Communications and IT Abdullah Al-Swaha has been speaking on a panel about the strategic outlook for Middle East economies. He makes the salient point that if countries want their economies to grow, they must focus on youth, technology and the empowerment of women...

11:30 - US President Donald Trump reverted to his role as salesman Tuesday, telling a gathering of the world's top businessmen in the Swiss Alps that he's led a “spectacular” turnaround of the US economy and encouraged them to invest in America.

He reminded the audience that when he spoke here two years ago, early in his presidency, “I told you that we had launched the great American comeback."

“Today I’m proud to declare the United States is in the midst of an economic boom, the likes of which the world has never seen before,” the president said.

11:00 - Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson delivered a special message from Pope Francis. He called on everyone to remember that we are all members of one human family, and that we have a moral obligation to care for one another.

And he asked for a renewed ethical approach in the forthcoming discussions, including in the discipline of economics.

10:30 - The historian Yuval Noah Harari struck a pessimistic note at the opening of this session on the technology arms race. 

"On the most shallow level it could be a repeat of the 19thcentury industrial revolution, when the leaders had the chance to dominate the world economically and politically... I understand the current arms race as an imperial arms race... You don't need to send the soldiers in if you have all the data on a country," says Harari.

10:00 - In one of the first sessions of the WEF, Greta Thunberg said the voices of science and youth need to be at the center of the conversations on environment and future during “Forging a Sustainable Path towards a Common Future” panel discussion. 

Read more on her speech hereThunberg condemns climate inaction as Trump joins Davos