Scotland politics

Nicola Sturgeon sees 'sense of solidarity' with London after attack

Nicola Sturgeon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has expressed her concern for those caught up in the terrorist attack at Westminster.

She spoke of a "sense of solidarity" felt in Scotland for people in London.

Four people have died after a car was driven at pedestrians near the UK parliament before the occupant jumped out and stabbed a police officer.

The Scottish Parliament suspended a debate on an independence referendum following the attack.

Ms Sturgeon said: "My thoughts, as I'm sure the thoughts of everybody in Scotland tonight, are with people caught up in this dreadful event.

"My condolences in particular go to those who've lost loved ones.

"My thoughts are with those who've sustained injuries and we all feel a sense of solidarity with the people of London tonight."

She said Scotland would consider whether there were any wider lessons for public safety.

The first minister added: "I convened a meeting of the Scottish Government's Resilience Committee to review what is currently known about the incident at Westminster and also to review any implications for Scotland.

"(But) it is important to stress that there is no intelligence of any risk to Scotland."

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Media captionKen Macintosh: "The fact that our sister parliament has had a serious incident is affecting this particular debate."

The Scottish Parliament had been close to concluding its debate on a call for a referendum on Scottish independence when Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh announced that the sitting would be suspended.

He said the incident in London was affecting the contributions of MSPs, and that the debate would resume at another time.

A vote had been due to be held at 17:30, but politicians including Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson called for the session to be suspended.

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Image caption The London attack is currently being treated as a terrorist incident
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Image caption Politicians and staff immediately left the chamber once the debate had been suspended

Parliament officials initially ruled that the debate should continue as planned, before Mr Macintosh decided that it should be halted.

The presiding officer said: "The fact that our sister parliament has had a serious incident is affecting this particular debate, and is affecting the contribution of members. And so it is for that reason we are deciding to suspend the sitting.

"We will resume this debate and we will be able to do so in a full and frank manner, but I think to continue at the moment would not allow members to make their contributions in the manner they wish to."

The debate is expected to continue next week, with a decision due to be made on Thursday morning.

Conservative MSP Fin Carson tweeted ahead of the presiding officer's ruling that he had left the parliament chamber, saying: "I can't understand how this debate can go on. At least a suspension would have shown some respect."

However, some politicians were unhappy about the decision to suspend the debate.

Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Rumbles was among those to argue it was a "mistake", telling BBC Scotland that had huge sympathy for those affected by the attack, but that: "We should not be giving in to terrorism, and I believe we've done that".

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham was also unhappy with the decision - but was later said to agree entirely after learning the full details of the London attack.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had been expected to win the backing of a majority of MSPs for her plan to ask the UK government for a section 30 order, which would be needed to hold a legally-binding referendum on independence.

The UK government has already said it will block the move, and will not enter into any negotiations until after the Brexit process has been completed.

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Image caption Security has been increased around the parliament building
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Image caption Several MSPs called for the debate to be suspended out of respect for those affected - but some argued it was "giving in to terrorism"

An increased police presence could be seen in and around the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood on Wednesday afternoon.

An email to MSPs, staff and Holyrood pass-holders from the Scottish Parliament chief executive's office said: "While there is no intelligence to suggest there is a specific threat to Scotland, Edinburgh or Holyrood, we have increased security with immediate effect at the Scottish Parliament as a precaution."

Police vehicles were seen outside the parliament building, with a spokesman for Police Scotland saying the force was "liaising with colleagues in London and will ensure appropriate safety and security plans are in place based upon what we know".