London: Britain’s politicians resume campaigning in earnest on Friday with national security in the spotlight, as police scramble to bust a Libya-linked jihadist network thought to be behind the Manchester terror attack.
Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had suspended campaigning after Monday’s bombing at a Manchester pop concert, which killed 22 people, including many teenagers, and wounded dozens more.
Eight suspects are currently in detention on UK soil in connection with the blast, for which the ISIS group has claimed responsibility, while police in Libya have detained the father and brother of 22-year-old suicide bomber Salman Abedi.
Washington’s top diplomat Rex Tillerson is due to visit London on Friday in an expression of solidarity, after Britain reacted furiously to leaks of sensitive details about the investigation to US media. US President Donald Trump threatened to prosecute those responsible for the “deeply troubling” security breach, which has strained the close relationship between Washington and London.
Britain’s terror threat assessment has been hiked to “critical”, the highest level, meaning an attack is considered imminent. Armed troops have also been sent to guard important sites, an unusual sight in mainland Britain, while armed police are now patrolling the country’s trains for the first time.
At the launch of the UK Independence Party’s manifesto on Thursday, deputy leader Suzanne Evans said May “must bear some responsibility” for the terror attack in Manchester this week due to policing budget cuts.
Queen Elizabeth II also visited a Manchester hospital to meet children injured in the “very wicked” attack, which happened at the end of a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande. Some 75 people were still being treated in hospital, including 23 in critical condition, medical officials said.