THE SHADOW home secretary said that he wanted to come to Reading to show respect to those who had lost their lives in Saturday’s attacks, and also to thank police for their hard work.
On Tuesday evening, Nick Thomas-Symonds joined Matt Rodda and senior officers from Thames Valley Police to lay flowers at the entrance of Forbury Gardens.
And afterwards, he met with local councillors, representatives from the faith communities and the LGBTQ+ communities to learn more about their work across the Thames Valley.
He explained: “I wanted to come to express my sympathies and show respect for those who lost their lives in this horrible event that occurred in that park behind us on Saturday night.
“Secondly, to pass on my thanks in person to the first responders who showed such extraordinary bravery in the most awful of circumstances.
“And thirdly, to show solidarity with the people of Reading, who’ve come together in the most remarkable way to show that division, terror and hatred do not win. I want to just bring that message that they don’t stand alone in saying that loud and clear. They are supported in that around the country as well.”
He also said that he had been moved by what he had seen, saying that there was an “extraordinary stillness” to the beauty of Forbury Gardens as police officers carried out their investigations.
“What more human thing could there be to do in go to a park like that, on the summery evening? And contrasting that with the heinous nature of the act that took place here on Saturday night, you do looking at that park, feel a sense of disbelief.
“But you also feel that very strong sense of support for those who are affected by it – those who have died, their families, their loved ones, their friends, but also those people who showed such extraordinary bravery on that grass that I’ve seen myself today.”
In the House of Commons debate, there was discussion about the so-called ‘lone wolf’ attackers. What can MPs do to help negate the threat?
Mr Thomas-Symonds said that Labour would work in the national interest, saying that bills on counter-terrorism are going through the Commons on a cross-party basis.
“What I’ll be doing, going forward as the shadow home secretary, is to recognise that the first duty of any government whatever colour it is, is to keep people safe.
“I will want to play my part in that endeavour, of course asking searching questions – it is the role of any opposition, but working across party lines – I think that’s the best way we can come to a position.
“We’re putting in place the best measures we possibly can to try to prevent something like this ever happening again.”