Britain is now on heightened terror alert after the Government raised the threat level to “critical” for the first time in a decade, which means that they fear another attack could be imminent. They have also activated Operation Temperer, which has seen nearly 1,000 soldiers taking up positions at high profile buildings and embassies in order to free up armed police officers to assist in counter-terrorism duties. Detectives are currently seeking to establish if Salman Abedi, the Manchester suicide bomber who left 22 people dead, was part of a wider network. Amber Rudd has said it is “likely” that he was not acting alone, while Greater Manchester Police have revealed that three men have been arrested in the south of the city in connection with Monday night’s bomb attack.
Abedi’s arrest has put Libya in the spotlight, as he returned to the UK from there a week before the bombing. “Libya has become a central front in Islamic State’s effort to strike targets in the heart of Europe,” explains Emma Webb. Questions will be raised as to why he was allowed to travel there, although Richard Walton, former head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command (SO15), explains that it wouldn’t necessarily have deterred him from attacking the Manchester Arena. “There are also plenty of examples of extremists who have been barred from travelling who have then gone on to commit terrorist offences in their home country, inspired by Isil operatives,” he writes. “It is the ultimate “Catch-22” for those making such decisions”.
Electoral campaigning has stopped in the meantime, and some Corbynistas are not taking the sudden change of events well. Debbie Hicks, vice chair of Stroud Labour Party, suggested online that the bomb was “wonderful timing” for Theresa May, a view echoed by the 30-year old son of Jeremy Corbyn’s top election strategist – who thought it came at an “unbelievably ideal time”. Labour has distanced itself from such comments, although Tom Harris argues that their anger at the Prime Minister rather than the perpetrators of the Manchester attack shows why the hard Left will lose. “In their minds, Corbyn’s inevitable defeat, when it comes, cannot possibly be the fault either of their leader or those who elected him to that job – they are in the right, they are righteous, they are On The Right Side of History,” he writes. “Therefore any failing must be the dastardly work of the Establishment, not them. Never them.”
As police continue to investigate the Manchester bombing, the political world is slowly revving up again. Ukip was the first party to announce its return to activity by announcing it would be going ahead with its manifesto launch tomorrow, while Labour has said its local campaign efforts will resume tomorrow and its national campaign will return on Friday. There are suggestions that the election could be postponed in the wake of the attack, although that prospect appears unlikely. Even if the election date does not change, it will be take quite a few days for the election campaign to get back into full swing.
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