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General Election 2019: Labour's Emily Thornberry in sideswipe at prime minister Boris Johnson in London Bridge terrorism row during Canterbury visit

The Conservative leader Boris Johnson has been accused of playing politics over the London Bridge attacker by a senior Labour politician.

Emily Thornberry, Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, said it was disappointing that the PM was seeking to turn the terrorist attack into an election issue “so soon after the event.”

The shadow minister was in Canterbury today to rally support for Labour candidate Rosie Duffield.

Emily Thornberry rallies supporters in Canterbury
Emily Thornberry rallies supporters in Canterbury

She said the PM’s claim that the incident would not have happened without the automatic release of convicted terrorists who had served a proportion of their sentence was “much more complicated than that.”

“I think it is unfortunate that the Prime Minister responded like that within a few hours of what was a terrible incident.”

She agreed that those guilty of terrorist crimes were particularly dangerous and should be treated differently to other criminals.

“But I think you need to have an effective response, not just a knee-jerk response.

"Quite clearly men like that are profoundly dangerous and should not be treated like other criminals. And we need to make sure above all that we keep the public safe.

"So I am disappointed to say the least that the Prime Minister thinks it is appropriate to come back with a knee-jerk reaction as quickly as he did. This shouldn't be about making headlines, it should be about keeping people safe.”

Rosie Duffield
Rosie Duffield

Asked about Labour’s prospects in the election with polls pointing to a Conservative win, she said: “To be honest it feels a bit like 2017 when 10 days before, we didn't know what the public were going to say. We were told Labour was going to get smashed and we weren't.

“There is everything to play for - a lot of people I speak to have not made up their mind and that's why it's important that we work incredibly hard in the next 10 days to get our message across and to show there is another way.”

During her visit to Canterbury, she met stall holders at a craft fair in Westgate Hall before addressing supporters who had gathered in the city centre for a mass canvas.

The rally was also addressed by the founder of the Women's Equality Party, TV celebrity Sandi Toksvig.

She told the crowd that she was supporting Rosie Duffield and had urged others in her party who were constituents to do the same.


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