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Westminster attack was over in just 82 seconds

25 March

The Westminster terror attack lasted only 82 seconds, Scotland Yard has said.

Khalid Masood's attack began at 2.40pm on Wednesday, and was over by 2.41pm, according to a detailed investigation by the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command.
The car the terrorist was driving first mounted the northbound pavement on Westminster Bridge at 2.40pm and 8 seconds.
Police say he then continued towards Bridge Street along both the footpath and road, before crashing into the Palace of Westminster's perimeter fence at 2.40pm and 38 seconds.
The first 999 call to the Met was made at 2.40pm and 59 seconds.
Masood then left his car and was "shot by a police firearms officer inside the Palace of Westminster boundary" at 2.41pm and 30 seconds.
:: Westminster gates left open after PC Palmer killed, video shows
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, senior national coordinator for UK Counter Terrorism Policing, said: "We still believe that Masood acted alone on the day and there is no information or intelligence to suggest there are further attacks planned."
But while he added that police "need to establish with absolute clarity why he did these unspeakable acts", DAC Basu acknowledged "there is a possibility we will never understand why he did this".
"That understanding may have died with him," he added.
He continued: "Nevertheless, we are determined to understand if Masood was a lone actor inspired by terrorist propaganda or if others have encouraged, supported or directed him.
:: Westminster attacker told friend of desire to kill people
"If the latter proves to be the case, they will face justice.
"Whilst the attack lasted only 82 seconds it will remain in the memories of many forever.
"The thoughts of all those working on this investigation are with those so deeply affected."
Meanwhile, the family of murdered PC Keith Palmer have thanked those who were with the officer in his final moments, saying: "There was nothing more you could have done."
In a statement, they said: "We have been overwhelmed by the love and support for our family, and most especially, the outpouring of love and respect for our Keith.
"We want to thank everyone who has reached out to us over the past few days for their kindness and generosity.
"The police have been a constant, unwavering support at this very difficult time. It has made us realise what a caring, strong and supportive family Keith was part of during his career with the police. We can't thank them enough."
Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, who has been appointed to the Privy Council for his brave attempt to save PC Palmer's life, said the officer was the real hero because he protected Parliament from the attack.
The 50-year-old minister told the Sunday Express: "The story is not about me. He was the hero, not me. I don't deserve the praise because I couldn't save him."
:: Anyone who has information to contribute about the attack is asked to call the anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321.

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Building collapses after 'gas explosion' on Wirral in Merseyside

25 March

A suspected gas explosion has caused a building to collapse on the Wirral in Merseyside, injuring a number of people.

Footage from the scene shows alarms blaring as people gather on a street covered in debris, with witness Paul Butler tweeting Sky News and saying: "The whole block has gone up ... horrific damage."
Merseyrail says train services have been suspended in the New Ferry area because of "potential damage" to a bridge.
A spokeswoman for the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said: "There has been a suspected gas explosion resulting in a building collapse.
"We are liaising with police and the ambulance service."
Alison McGovern, the Labour MP for Wirral South, tweeted: "Am on scene in New Ferry. A very serious situation. Please stay away if you can, let police and emergency services do their job."
Wirral Council says emergency teams have set up a refuge for people who have been displaced by the explosion.
A building believed to be a dance studio was destroyed in the blast - with surrounding buildings also damaged.
Ian Kenyon, a reporter for Wirral Radio at the scene, says no fatalities have been reported from the explosion - but people who were eating at a restaurant nearby may have been affected.
He told Sky News a "significant" cordon has been set up in the surrounding area, and a smell of gas has been reported to the major incident unit and National Grid engineers at the scene.
"There is a certainty toxicity to the air ... floodlights are being erected as they begin the job of sifting through the rubble," Mr Kenyon said.
Bino Shan, who works at a local convenience store, said: "I saw one man injured, I think a few people were injured.
"The building is gone, my door is damaged and broken. It's really scary, it was a big explosion but I didn't see any fire."
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Remainers march against Brexit days before Article 50 triggered

25 March

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UK absence from EU's 60th anniversary 'a sad moment', says Jean-Claude Juncker

25 March

Britain's absence from the EU's 60th birthday celebrations is "a sad moment", EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker has said.

The president of the European Commission also restated his view that the UK's departure from the bloc after more than 40 years was "a tragedy".
Mr Juncker was speaking at a meeting of the remaining 27 member states in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the founding agreement of the EU.
:: EU future looks uncertain as bloc marks its 60th birthday
Britain is set to trigger Article 50 next Wednesday that will start the formal two-year divorce proceedings from Brussels.
As he arrived at the anniversary ceremony, Mr Juncker said: "It is a very sad moment, I do think that the Brexit, the exit of Britain, is a tragedy."
But he believed the EU was strong enough to see through the challenges it faced from economic problems and the migration crisis to the terrorist threat and rise of populist anti-Europe movements.
:: What happens when Article 50 is triggered
Recalling how the new Europe was built from the ashes of World War II, he said: "Daunting as they are, the challenges we face today are in no way comparable to those faced by the founding fathers."
EU Council President Donald Tusk also called on government heads to be strong.
He said: "Prove today that you are the leaders of Europe, that you can care for this great legacy we inherited from the heroes of European integration 60 years ago.
"Europe as a political entity will either be united, or will not be at all. Only a united Europe can be a sovereign Europe in relation to the rest of the world.
"Only a sovereign Europe guarantees independence for its nations, guarantees freedom for its citizens."
:: Your guide to Brexit jargon
Pope Francis had earlier warned on the eve of the summit that the crisis-hit bloc "risks dying" without a new vision.
Meanwhile, Washington has congratulated the EU on its 60th birthday, in a shift in tone for President Donald Trump's administration which has been sceptical towards Brussels.
A White House statement said: "Our two continents share the same values and, above all, the same commitment to promote peace and prosperity through freedom, democracy, and the rule of law."
Security was tight at the Rome meeting with snipers on rooftops, drones in the skies and 3,000 police officers on the streets following the terror attack in London on Wednesday.

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Douglas Carswell: UKIP's only MP quits party to become independent

25 March

UKIP's only MP Douglas Carswell has announced he will be leaving the party but will stay on as independent.

In a statement posted on his website, Mr Carswell said he would be quitting the party, with the Prime Minister due to trigger the formal Article 50 divorce process from the EU on Wednesday.
He wrote: "Like many of you, I switched to UKIP because I desperately wanted us to leave the EU. Now we can be certain that that is going to happen, I have decided that I will be leaving UKIP.
"I will not be switching parties, nor crossing the floor to the Conservatives, so do not need to call a by-election, as I did when switching from the Conservatives to UKIP.
"I will simply be the Member of Parliament for Clacton, sitting as an independent. I will leave UKIP amicably, cheerfully and in the knowledge that we won."
:: Your guide to Brexit jargon
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Carswell denied he joined the party to undermine former leader Nigel Farage.
He said: "I think that many millions who made the switch to UKIP like me will now recognise that, you know, job done, and some will decide to move on.
"But you know, to those who decide to remain I wish them well.
"I haven't spoken to him (Nigel Farage) for a long time, one of those by-elections that we lost... that was about the last time we spoke.
"But you know I wish Nigel well and I just wish he would be a bit more positive about the fact that on Wednesday, we win."
The resignation comes after a public spat between Mr Carswell and the party's largest financial backer, Arron Banks, who is a close ally of former leader Nigel Farage.
Mr Farage told Sky News Political Correspondent Tamara Cohen: "He jumped before he was pushed, he should have gone some time ago.
"Whilst he was sincere about Brexit, he was never UKIP and constantly tried to undermine and divide us.
"I felt the day after he was elected he was saying things that weren't really UKIP."
Mr Banks suggested this month he could trigger a by-election in Clacton, by using a recall petition, and stand against Mr Carswell.
Responding to the resignation, Mr Banks tweeted a smiley face emoji and a green tick.
:: What happens when Article 50 is triggered?
Andy Wigmore, a spokesman for Mr Banks, called on Mr Carswell to trigger a by-election.
He said: "The net has been closing in - there is a UKIP national executive committee meeting on Monday and he knew he was for the chop, so jumped.
"He should call a by-election and Aaron will stand against him."
Mr Carswell was first elected to represent Clacton in 2005 as a Conservative MP, but defected to UKIP in 2014 and subsequently won the by-election as the party's only MP.

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