Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East MP speaks out on terror

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An insight into the day that terror came to Westminster has been provided by Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East MP Stuart McDonald who was at the Palace of Westminster at the time of the attack.

Mr McDonald admits that he and his colleagues “feel drained and shocked” at the events that saw an unarmed police officer, PC Keith Palmer fatally stabbed on the Parliament estate.

The BBC has listed the death toll as four, including the attacker who has not yet been named but was shot dead by officers.

Scottish Nationalist Mr McDonald said: “I know that everyone who works on the Parliamentary Estate is feeling acutely aware that PC Keith Palmer has lost his life in order to keep us safe. Our thoughts are with his family and friends - and indeed with all the victims, their family and friends - after yesterday’s terrible events.

“Shortly before the attack commenced, I was with a group of about 20 MPs taking part in a debate in Westminster Hall. The division bell rang signalling for MPs to gather for a vote in the main debating chamber of the House of Commons. After that vote most of us gathered in the chamber to hear the result, ahead of another vote.

“At that stage words began to spread about shots being heard. At first there was disbelief, but the fact of an attack was of course soon confirmed by news reports. Parliament’s security procedures saw us in lockdown and we remained in the chamber for a few hours thereafter as the whole estate was searched – while we phoned to check our staff were safe; and replied to messages of concern from family and friends.

“ Despite being so close to the horrific attack, we were mostly as reliant as members of the public on internet news and social media for updates.

“Gradually the full horror of the attack was revealed, with the loss of life and many serious injuries.

“When we were eventually able to leave, there were perhaps 30 or 40 police officers taking down details of everyone who had been in the building, as calmly and professionally as ever.

“The officer who took my details actually thanked me for my time – it is clearly the officer and his colleagues serving in police forces across the UK who deserve all the praise in the world, alongside the ambulance service and brave bystanders – including Tobias Ellwood MP – who sought to save lives and tend to the injured.

“Today Parliament is continuing with business. Violent extremists and terrorists want us to react and to stoke hostility.

“The best thing we can do to show these people that violence and terrorism will never work is to continue to support each other, respect each other and get on with our lives as before.”