Following the horrific atrocities in Paris last night, the Prime Minister chaired COBR this morning to assess what we know about what happened and to review the UK’s response.
The UK Ambassador to Paris and the intelligence agencies provided a briefing on the incidents and the situation in Paris this morning. We know that there were multiple incidents with over 120 feared dead and many more injured.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have handled around 400 calls overnight. While we have now confirmed the safety of many British citizens, we are concerned that a small number of British nationals have been caught up in the attack. Our embassy in Paris is working urgently with the French authorities to find out more and we have deployed additional consular staff and a team from the Metropolitan Police to assist them with this task.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have updated their travel advice to suggest that people in Paris follow the advice of the French authorities and travel continues as usual.
Ministers reviewed the security situation in the UK. On the advice of the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, the threat level will remain at severe – the level it has been at since August 2014 and which means an attack is highly likely. We encourage the public to remain alert but not alarmed.
The police have stepped up their security measures on a precautionary basis and UK border force are working with their French counterparts in light of the tighter border controls in France.
While the UK has been working together to ensure we could respond to such an attack since the Mumbai attacks in 2008, Ministers agreed we should review our plans to make sure that we learn any lessons.
Following COBR, the Prime Minister called President Hollande to express his profound condolences. The Prime Minister told the President that the UK stood with France and the French people during this difficult time and we would do all we can to help.
Both leaders reiterated their determination to tackle the threat of terrorism. They agreed to further enhance the close co-operation and information-sharing between the UK and France to ensure we are doing all we can to identify and stop those who threaten us, whether in Syria and Iraq or closer to home. They agreed to stay in touch in the coming days as more information emerges.
Meanwhile, the Union Flag has been lowered to half-mast over Downing Street with the French Tricolour alongside as a clear demonstration of our solidarity with the French. The government has also been working with partners on further expressions of solidarity today – the London Eye, the National Gallery, Tower Bridge and Wembley will be lit up red, white and blue tonight.
Finally, the Prime Minister will travel to the G20 in Turkey tomorrow as planned where he will have the opportunity to talk to other leaders about how we work together to defeat this Islamist terrorism threat whether in Paris, Ankara, Northern Sinai, Syria or Iraq.
The other attendees at COBR were: the Home Secretary, the Chancellor, the Defence Secretary, the Communities Secretary, Lord Ahmad from the Department for Transport, as well as senior representatives from the intelligence agencies and the National Security Advisor.
The Foreign Secretary, UK Ambassador to France, the First Minister for Wales and the First Minister for Scotland all joined via a link.