British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has come under fire from opponents and his own ranks after a speech in which he sought to draw links between involvement in the “war on terror” and attacks on the streets of Britain.
As election campaigning resumed on Friday following the Manchester Arena attack, Corbyn was also careful to stress that foreign policy decisions could not “remotely excuse” terrorists such as Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi, who killed 22 people at a concert on Monday.
But Conservative Security Minister Ben Wallace said Corbyn’s comments were “totally inappropriate and crassly timed”, while Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron accused him of trying to use the “grotesque act to make a political point”.
Senior Labour figure Mike Gapes said Islamic State terrorists “hate us for what we are”, not “for what we do”.
In his speech in London, Corbyn vowed to reverse Prime Minister Theresa May’s police cuts and give the security services more resources if they needed them.
“No government can prevent every terrorist attack. But the responsibility of government is to minimise that chance, to ensure the police have the resources they need, that our foreign policy reduces rather than increases the threat to this country,” he said.
“Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, pointed out the connections between wars that we’ve been involved in or supported … in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home.”
Corbyn, a veteran anti-war campaigner, said foreign policy was not solely to blame for terrorism but he would shy away from the interventionist approach that has seen Britain join military action in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan.
“We must be brave enough to admit the ‘war on terror’ is not working,” he said.
May’s Conservatives are leading in the opinion polls before the June 8 election.