Tory MP asks if JTAC will be raising the terrorism threat level in the UK
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has been urged to consider raising the UK terror threat level as violence continues to escalate in the Middle East.
M15 director Ken McCallum yesterday warned of the risk of domestic terror attacks inspired by the attacks on Israel by Hamas, and Israel’s military response.
And Tory MP Alicia Kearns, the chairwoman of Parliament’s powerful Foreign Affairs committee, urged Mr Cleverly to consider increasing the threat level set by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC), currently fixed at “substantial”.
Speaking in the Commons today in the wake of last night’s Gaza hospital bombing, for which neither side has accepted responsibility, Ms Kearns, Tory MP for Rutland and Melton, described the situation as “unbearable”.
She continued: “Whilst the horrors of last night cannot be unseen, we must not look away.
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“Violence across the region is increasing but also in Europe and the US.”
Ms Kearns continued: “We in this house have a duty to protect British nationals. So can I ask what assessment has been made by the government as the need to raise the threat level by JTAC?”
Referring to furious demonstrations which followed the hospital bombing, she added: “Can I also have reassurance about what has been done to protect our diplomatic staff around the world after the heinous attacks we saw on the Israeli and the American embassies overnight?”
Mr Cleverly replied: “My honourable friend makes it incredibly important point.
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“We constantly assess the threat picture both here in the UK and in the region.
“I conducted an all staff meeting with Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office staff across the whole world.
“Over 5,000 people attended that briefing and I made it clear that as their employer, I will regard my duty of care towards them uppermost.”
Mr Cleverly added: “We do of course continue to support British nationals overseas including in the region and our consular team are maintaining as best they can contact of British nationals in Israel and indeed, in Gaza.
“It is an incredibly difficult consular situation, but I can assure her and the House that we will remain as as far as we’re able to in contact with those British nationals seeking our support and we are consistently trying to reopen exit routes from Gaza so British nationals can leave.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk in Washington yesterday, Mr McCullum said: “On the Hamas attacks, these were monstrous attacks which saw 1400 people murdered.
“That includes British citizens, others are still missing. I offer my deepest condolences to all those in Israel, who have seen their lives changed forever as a result of these outrageous acts.
“There clearly is the possibility that profound events in the Middle East will either generate more volume of UK threat and/or changes in shape in terms of what is being targeted, in terms of how people are taking inspiration.
“Terrorists can draw inspiration not just from things they see happening inside the UK but things they see happening in the Middle East or on the continent or elsewhere.”
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