On Wednesday 22nd March, I was set to attend a Youth Affairs debate in the Houses of Parliament. How little did I imagine the chaos that I would be walking into as I stepped out of the tube station in Westminster. It was a surreal moment when I realised what was going on. The feeling of possible imminent harm was overwhelming, and I saw and heard things that day that no one should ever have to witness. Blood, screaming, gunshots. An unexpected whirlwind of frenzy and turmoil. To say I was lucky is an understatement.
We will always remember the innocent lives, like P.C Keith Palmer, that were horrifically taken away from us that day. However, when turning to the future we must not live in the darkness of the past. There was no coincidence that it was exactly one year since the attack in Brussels. It was no coincidence that it was an attack at the ‘Mother of all Parliaments’. It was an attack on our democracy, on our liberty, on our freedom, and on everything we in Britain hold dearly.
We must not change the way we live our lives. We must not lose faith. Despite all the mayhem, that day I saw an excellent operation by our inspirational police force who everyday put their lives on the line for our safety. Although a fellow officer had just been ruthlessly murdered, I saw faces of confidence and determination from the Metropolitan Police that reinstated all belief I had in them to get the job done.
It is a fact that our secret services foil plans like this every month of the year, plans that we have no idea about. On this occasion a rogue terrorist slipped through their fingers, but we must realise that was an incredibly rare event.
I would like to remind you that in Britain we have one of the best secret services in the entire world, and that we should have every reason to feel safe knowing that there are people right across the nation working tirelessly day and night to ensure we are away from harm.
What to make of Khalid Masood? Nothing but a sad, twisted, coward. Fortunately enough he didn’t achieve any of his ambitions that day. In fact, he achieved the exact opposite. People spoke to each other on the tube. Some showed a caring smile to their neighbours. For once, police officers received handshakes and respect from the public for their valiant work. Parliament carried on the next day, tourists filled the London attractions and workers resumed their work. Through all the commotion, heroes flourished in the form of characters like Tobias Ellwood MP, who truly exemplified the best of what we stand for as a nation. A fine example of true British resilience and defiance that we have shown time and time again, even in our darkest hours, and will always continue to do so.
Let this be a message to anyone who wishes to cause these isles any harm. London is standing tall. Britain is standing tall. If you think that this has caused even a mere dent in our morale, then you couldn’t be further from the truth. We have never bowed down to terror, never in our long and rich history. Our Government is determined to crack down on these threats even more. Our greatest days lie ahead, days that will not be determined by any unwanted outside force.
When I look up at the Union Flag, I see something special. A proud nation, bound together by common beliefs and interests. Four countries, yet one people. Britain, no matter what happens in the world within the coming decades, will always carry those core values which will never be quelled by sick fantasists of any form.
To change the way we live our lives would be allowing these barbaric terrorists to win. That simply cannot happen. If history has taught us anything, it is that we should never give the enemy what they want.
Not only is this a battle in the shadows of the secret services, or in warfare in the Middle East, but a battle that everyday people like you and I can help to win. It’s a battle of beliefs. The terrorists are determined for death and hatred. In Britain, we have weapons of unity, love, freedom of speech and compassion. These are ideals that always have been and always will be stronger and triumphant.
Therefore by showing those true British ideals in our everyday lives, and by carrying on with our business in the face of evil and horror, we will come out of this victorious with our heads held high just like we have done so many times before.