‘The cowards who wish to do our democracy lasting harm have failed’

Two women embrace after laying flowers in Parliament Square in honour of the victims of the terrorist attack.
Two women embrace after laying flowers in Parliament Square in honour of the victims of the terrorist attack.
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HAYES IN THE HOUSE: By MP John Hayes

The horrific terrorist attack at the heart of Westminster ten days ago shocked the nation. The depraved act of a British-born Islamist terrorist took several lives in our capital city and damaged many others. A few moments of cruelty shattered the peaceful calm of a spring day, reminding us of the fragility of safe, secure daily lives.

The atrocities elsewhere in Europe over recent years have informed the understanding of the severe threat we face. The security services and police do all they can to anticipate and prevent such attacks, just as the emergency services prepare for their aftermath. It is thanks to the quick response and heroism of many that the casualty list was not longer. The bravery of police officers who confronted the terrorist, and members of the public who rushed to help the wounded, is a tribute to the spirit of 
ordinary Britons in the face of such violence.

Loss of life brings pain and sadness, and those injured by this wickedness will be 
affected forever. The terrorist chose to target the core of our nation – the oldest of all Parliaments. This was an attack on our democracy’s heart. Yet government endures, doing its business as usual. Terrorism aims to alter all we do by intimidation, and so is bound to fail.

The following morning, just hours after the attacks, it was business as usual in Parliament for me. After a minute’s silence to mourn the dead and reflect on the heroism of those who risked their lives a day earlier, the House of Commons sat at 9.30am as normal, and, a little later, the standing committee of the Vehicle and Technology Aviation Bill, which I am leading through Parliament, continued as planned.

At that session I spoke to the committee members – friends from parties across the House – saying this:

“As we stood together in 
silence and sorrow earlier, so we stand together for all time; Parliament and people. Our Committee, in its modest way, tells all that should be known about this place, our work: debate without rancour, difference without disputation; and mutual regard and respect. Parliamentary politics is, in my judgment, far from broken, and it will not be broken by the enemies of decency.”

The cowards who wish to do our democracy lasting harm have failed. People faced down fear by showing the kind of resolve that Britons have so many times in ages past. We must remain ceaseless in our virtuous struggle against Islamism. Our values will prevail.