As the news broke in the U.K. of the attacks in Paris, the overwhelming reaction was one of shock, grief and disgust. The U.K. has a strong relationship with France and there are many French people living in the U.K. and vice versa. In particular, there is a large French Jewish community in London.
Paris is only a few hours’ train ride from London and the feeling was that if an atrocity like this could happen there, it could also happen in London. On Saturday night, a number of London landmarks were lit up in the colors of the French flag, and a vigil in support of the French people took place in Trafalgar Square in central London.
Prime Minister David Cameron issued a statement describing the attacks as “horrifying and sickening.” He expressed solidarity with the French people, saying, “Today the British and French people stand together, as we have so often before in our history when confronted by evil. Shocked, but resolute. In sorrow, but unbowed.”
Mr. Cameron continued with a message of support, “Nous sommes solidaires avec vous. Nous sommes tous ensemble. We stand with you. United.”
Speaking about the terrrorists’ aims, he said, “It is to divide us and to destroy our way of life.” The response, said Mr. Cameron, is that “more than ever we must come together and stand united. And carry on with the way of life that we love.”
The British Government is currently discussing a controversial Investigatory Powers Bill, dubbed a Snooper’s Charter, which will allow police and security services access to the browsing history of every person in the country, amongst other powers. There has been pressure since the Paris attack to push the bill through Parliament within the next month in attempt to prevent a similar attack in the U.K.
However, the Government has made no comment as to whether this is likely.
Home Secretary Teresa May said that Europe must tighten its external borders in the wake of the attack. Speaking in an interview on Sunday, Ms. May said that screening checks at British ports had been tightened and that there would be extra police at the borders and on the streets. She warned people to be “alert but not afraid.”
Her Majesty the Queen expressed her shock and sadness at the attack. In a message to the French head of state Francois Hollande, the Queen said, “Prince Philip and I have been deeply shocked and saddened by the terrible loss of life in Paris. We send out most sincere condolences to you, the families of those who died and the French people.”