'Temperature of terror threat rising' after attacks in France and Austria, says UK security minister

Security services say attacks in UK are ‘highly likely’ after terror threat level raised 

UK raises terror threat level to ‘severe’ following attacks across Europe

The “temperature of the terror threat in Europe is rising” following a spate of attacks in France and Austria, the UK’s security minister has said.

James Brokenshire told the House of Commons that intelligence agencies assessed the threat of attacks in Britain as highly likely.

Explaining the decision to increase the UK’s terror threat level from substantial to severe, he said: “There is a risk that the recent attacks in France and Austria could have a galvanising effect in other parts of Europe, including the UK … they  suggest that the temperature of the threat in Europe is rising.”

The spate of Isis-inspired attacks that hit England in 2017 was preceded by a string of atrocities in mainland Europe, including several in France.

Mr Brokenshire said that since March 2017, British security services have foiled 27 terror plots – 19 Islamist and eight far right.

A total of 12 attacks have been carried out in the same period, including the rampages by former terrorist prisoners at London Bridge and Streatham over the past year.

In January, two inmates attempted to murder a prison officer at HMP Whitemoor in the first Isis-inspired attack inside a British jail.

Parliament is currently considering a package of new laws that aim to keep extremists in prison for longer, amid warnings about radicalisation and terrorist networking on the inside.

Mr Brokenshire said the bill would “strengthen protections” and that police patrols would increase because of the raised threat level.

“The UK faces a serious and enduring threat from terrorism,” he told MPs.

“Recent events in France and Vienna have provided a stark and brutal reminder of the risks that we face and the continuing need to be resolute in the face of those who would wish to sow division and hatred.

"This government is committed to tackling terrorism in all its forms and supporting our friends, partners and allies against those who would do us harm. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of France and Austria at this time of hurt and pain.

“Our thoughts are with the bereaved and all those who mourn the loss of loved ones. We have made formal offers of support to their governments and underlined our shared resolve to stand together in solidarity against the extremists who despise our liberal values and our very way of life.”

The UK’s terrorism threat level was lowered to substantial a year ago, just weeks before an Islamist extremist murdered two people at a rehabilitation event in London.

The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (Jtac) changed its assessment following a spate of attacks in France and the shooting rampage by an Isis supporter in Vienna on Monday.

Neil Basu, the head of UK Counter Terrorism Policing, said the change was “not based on a specific threat”.

He called for communities to stand together and “reject those who seek to sow division and hatred between us”.

Isis, al-Qaeda and other jihadi groups have been ramping up calls in recent weeks for supporters around the world to commit atrocities.

Counter-terrorism police believe that lockdown restrictions brought in to tackle the coronavirus pandemic may force a change to terrorist methodology.

Through its propaganda, Isis popularised the targeting of crowded places using low-tech methods including vehicles and knives.

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