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General election will go ahead on 8 June despite attack, says PM May

Justin Tallis, AFP | Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a statement outside 10 Downing Street in central London on June 4, 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday said Britain’s general elections would go ahead as originally planned, despite a series of deadly attacks in the country.

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May’s announcement came after terrorists killed at least seven people and injured scores more in London only five days before the key June 8 general election, sparking a debate about whether it should be maintained.

Campaign has been stopped out of respect, but the prime minister said they would resume on Monday, adding: “We need to defend British pluralistic values that are superior to anything offered by preachers and supporters of hate.”

The attack targetted the SE1 district of London which is fashionable area of the capital packed with pubs, clubs and restaurants.

Most mainstream political parties had already temporarily suspended their campaigns for the suicide bombing that killed 23 people, including children, and injured scores at a pop concert in Manchester on May 22. Furthermore, in March a man killed five people after driving into a crowd of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in central London. As a result the UK is reeling from its third terrorist attack in as many months.

"The Conservative party will not be campaigning nationally today. We will review as the day goes on and as more details of the attack emerge," May's party announced hours after the vehicle and knife attack in London.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour party, added in a statement: "The Labour party will be suspending national campaigning until this evening, after consultations with other parties, as a mark of respect for those who have died and suffered injury."

The nationalist UK Independence Party (UKIP) nevertheless broke with other parties, saying it would carry on with its general election campaign. “Disrupting our democracy is what the extremists want,” UKIP leader Paul Nuttall said on twitter on Sunday.

Delay vote?

Just hours after the attack, an online petition was launched urging May to suspend the election. Some social media users said the prime minister should call off the vote in order to focus on security.

Petitions on the Government’s own website have been stopped, like all parliamentary business, since the Parliament was dissolved in view of the June 8 poll.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan was among the first British leaders to publicly reject the idea of delaying the general election.

“I'm a passionate believer in democracy and making sure that we vote and we recognise actually that one of the things these terrorists hate is voting, they hate democracy,” he said.

Brexit Minister David Davis also expressed doubt that the date of general election could be legally moved.

“I'm not sure it can be legally done. In order to do this you'd have to have some change of law I think and who's going to do that? Parliament no longer exists," Davis told the BBC, referring to the fact that parliament was dissolved ahead of the election.

"I think we're locked in," he said.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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