Huntingdonshire MPs were locked down in parliament in wake of terrorist incident

PUBLISHED: 16:28 22 March 2017 | UPDATED: 07:38 23 March 2017

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly

Archant

Both Huntingdonshire MPs Jonathan Djanogly and Shailesh Vara were in the House of Commons when the attack on the Palace of Westminster took place.

An Air Ambulance outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster. A man with a knife has been seen within the confines of the Palace, eyewitnesses said. Picture Victoria Jones/PA Wire An Air Ambulance outside the Palace of Westminster, London, after sounds similar to gunfire have been heard close to the Palace of Westminster. A man with a knife has been seen within the confines of the Palace, eyewitnesses said. Picture Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Both Huntingdonshire MPs Jonathan Djanogly and Shailesh Vara were in the House of Commons when the attack on the Palace of Westminster took place.

A policeman was stabbed and his attacker shot by officers after a major terrorist incident.

The attacker mowed down several pedestrians as he drove a grey Hyundai i40 across Westminster Bridge before crashing it into railings then running through the gates of the Palace of Westminster and stabbing the officer.

Four people, including the policeman and the attacker, are confirmed to have died and a number of others were hurt - including some with “catastrophic” injuries - in the incident on Westminster Bridge.

Shailesh Vara MP Shailesh Vara MP

Eyewitnesses said the attacker was shot by police as he approached a second officer clutching a knife.

He left a trail of destruction as paramedics tended to his victims on the bridge and at the gate.

Speaking to The Hunts Post from the chamber, where he was kept with other MPs while police secured the scene, Mr Djanogly said: “We have been here for over an hour and they are not letting anyone out, they [police] think there is another terrorist in the precinct.

“We are not allowed to move or be let out whilst armed police to go through and check the corridors and the rest of the building.

“The atmosphere in the chamber is calm; it was just a chance that it happened at the same time that a vote had started when the vast majority of MPs were in or around the chamber as it was much easier to manage than if we had all be dispersed.

“There is a huge amount of concern here for the injured that we are hearing about on the bridge.

“We have a very strong feeling and very grateful for the police and how they acted so quickly.”

This is the second time that Mr Djanogly has been caught up in an incident in parliament, the first being in 2004 when powder was thrown at the then Prime Minister Tony Blair from the public gallery.

“It is not a nice feeling at the moment but at moments like this we realise how reliant we are on those who protect us.”

North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara was also in the chamber.

He said: “I didn’t see anything but we’re in lockdown at the moment. All the MPs at the time are still here and there are about 250 people in the chamber at the moment and more in the lobby outside.

“There was a vote taking place and we all started coming to vote. I had just done it and come back in to await the result.”

Mr Vara said that during this time, MPs outside heard sounds like gunshots and, as they filtered back through, word got out about the attack.

“For the moment, we are in the chamber. It is sombre but we are calm. We were concerned about our staff and MPs have been calling them and making sure they’re safe.

“There have been calls coming in from families and friends picking up on it elsewhere and seeing if we’re alright.”

Mr Vara said schoolchildren visiting the building have been taken away, and that everyone in lockdown has been in the chamber for about two hours.

He also told The Hunts Post that the Leader of the House of Commons is keeping them informed, and that the Scottish and Welsh parliaments have also suspended operations for the day.

“Our first thoughts were for those attacked and hurt and prayers are with those people. There is also praise for the security services putting their lives on the line to protect us and everyone else in the area.”

“There was a touching moment when schoolchildren were brought into the public gallery and as they were sitting there, a lady attendant gave them all sweets. It was a touching moment among all of the seriousness and tragedy that had just occurred.”

Mr Vara said that in 12 years of being an MP, “nothing like this has happened” before.

“It’s a sad state of affairs and we are living in dangerous times.”

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