MPs flooded with letters of thanks after Westminster attack
PUBLISHED: 13:28 31 March 2017 | UPDATED: 13:28 31 March 2017
MPs have been flooded with letters following the terror attack in Westminster as people up and down the country thanked them for their work.
Four people died, including policeman Keith Palmer, and many injured after a lone attacker Khalid Masood, 52, struck dozens of pedestrians with his car along Westminster Bridge and entered the palace with a knife, stabbing the officer.
He was shot by armed police.
South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen was entering the courtyard as the attack occurred. She said: “I was shoved out of the way by one of the plain clothed coppers. I was walking underneath the arches and was coming to the end of them. As a habit I looked to the left where there are usually cars coming in, and there were two men in blue suits with automatic weapons shouting at me to get out of the way. They shoved me back, and then there were the gunshots. One of those officers killed him.”
MPs were rushed into the Commons chamber where they stayed for hours. Mrs Allen was communicating with one of her staff who was trapped in their nearby office. “We were communicating on our mobiles, trying to conserve battery,” she said.
Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner was on his was to cast a vote at the time of the attack. He said: “I was on an escalator and I heard shouting and saw people running towards me and people were talking about a gun. We thought in that minute that there was someone with a gun coming towards us.
“I managed to get back to my office and from then on I was in a very similar situation to everyone else, trying to find out what had happened on the television and Twitter. It was clear that something had gone very wrong.
“There was a warning that there was a second person within the estate, so that was a worry, but the security services and the police reacted so swiftly. Of course you can never tell. It was a very distressing week for everybody.”
Mr Zeichner returned to parliament on Thursday. “I don’t think it’s quite business as usual yet. Thursday was a very difficult day because the whole of Westminster Square was closed and there was a very somber feeling. When people walked past the square they paused for reflection.
“The railings and garden square are laden with flowers, so it looks beautiful, but it’s very sobering that in just those ninety seconds so many people’s lives were ruined. I expect that for some time people will be in a reflective mood.”
Heidi Allen returned to her constituency office. She said: “I could have gone in but I was worried about my staff. They are part of our team and they feel it too, so I came back to see them.
“I think everybody on my team, more than me, understands the job and it’s risks. I’m very pragmatic; I’m interested in the workload and what we need to do. I’ve always thought of Westminster as a bubble that I didn’t want to be part of. It hit them quite hard as that very place became completely penetrable.
“I’ve had a stream of emails from people thanking me for what we do. Democracy is a team sport.
“It’s incredibly tragic, but it’s that age-old phrase, you can’t let them win. I think we respond by continuing as we were. Maybe being a lot more aware, I’m more aware now of the precious bubble of Westminster and taking for granted this precious thing we have in this country which is democracy.”
South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Fraser said that she saw nothing on the day of the attack, but said on Thursday: “Yesterday was a tragic day. It was a tragedy for those innocent people who were killed, and for their family and friends.
“PC Palmer lost his life protecting us. Every day the police protect us in the Houses of Parliament and in our communities and I want to pay tribute to them for all their work. It was also an attack on our democracy. Today, we got back to work in the House of Commons because it is important that we never let terrorism defeat us.”