Robert's Weekly Swindon Advertiser Article - 18th November 2015

Friday night's abhorrent attacks in Paris hit a concert hall, a major stadium, restaurants and bars, leaving at least 129 people dead, including one British citizen, and hundreds wounded. The victims were innocent people spending time with friends and family who were doing no one any harm and these were shameful acts of violence and murder.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the French people and all those who lost loved ones in the attacks, which were the worst acts of violence in France since the Second World War. It is appalling events like this that remind us of the sheer bravery of our Armed Forces and Security Services who work so hard to keep us safe.

While the full picture of what happened is still emerging, we know that it was carefully planned with at least three separate teams of terrorists having struck almost simultaneously.

I have received emails from constituents who are concerned about our country’s safety, and attention is now turning to Britain’s response to these tragic events. There is certainly no easy response to these attacks, but I believe our government is right to adopt a measured approach, and to continue the process of strengthening our security.

Since Friday, our Government has been working closely with the French authorities, through our security and intelligence agencies, police and Border Force and our Embassy in Paris.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office sent a rapid response team to Paris immediately following the attacks and the consular team in Paris and the UK continues to provide family support, including through family liaison officers.

Facing an increasing threat of international terrorist attacks, the UK Government has also announced new funding for intelligence agencies to provide for an additional 1,900 officers, an increase of 15 per cent, at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. There will also be a step change in the Government's approach to aviation security following the Sinai disaster, with the Prime Minister ordering a review of security at airports around the world.

I am reassured that the focus of this year’s G-20 summit meeting in Antalya has now turned to Syria and the threat posed by ISIL. Earlier this week, the Prime Minister met other world leaders, including President Putin, in a series of side-line meetings in which he stressed the need for compromise and the importance of working together, particularly with Russia, to end the war in Syria as a key element in the fight against extremism.

Britain stands united with the French people and the Government of France against terrorism in defence of our shared values: freedom of speech, the rule of law, and democracy. This shameful act of terrorism will only achieve the opposite of its purpose, which was to divide, frighten, and sow hatred. We will redouble our efforts to wipe out this poisonous extremist ideology and, together with the French and our allies around the world, stand up for all we believe in.