THE horrific attack in Nice that has left at least 84 people dead, including many children, when a terrorist drove a truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day, has once again plunged France into mourning.
The nation’s president, Francois Hollande, described the attack as “despicable” and the fact that it took place on the country’s national day of celebration makes it all the more repugnant. But just as the world stood in solidarity with Britain after the July 7 bombings 11 years ago, the thoughts of this country are once again with the French people.
This latest atrocity, just nine months after the attacks on Paris that left 130 people dead, comes only weeks after 45 people were killed in an attack at Istanbul’s airport and is a chilling reminder that the terrorist threat across Europe appears to be increasing once again.
World leaders were quick to offer their condolences. The new Prime Minister, Theresa May, struck the right tone, expressing our support and sympathy while at the same time pledging that Britain would redouble its efforts to defeat “brutal” terrorist “murderers”.
It is still unclear what the motive behind the attack was and whether it was the work of a sole perpetrator, or a wider network. This change of tactic, namely using a vehicle as a weapon of mass destruction, is a new and admittedly terrifying one. But it should only strengthen our resolve in tackling such cruel and barbaric acts.
Britain may have voted to leave the EU but we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our European friends and neighbours. We must face hate-filled terrorism, and all those purporting to act in its name, head on.
Those who carry out such dreadful atrocities want to create a climate of fear and anger in Europe. Which is why we must stand firm and send out a clear message that terrorism will never win.
Last Goodbyes - town turns out for Jo Cox
A corner of Yorkshire fell silent yesterday as a town stopped to remember the late MP Jo Cox.
United in quiet grief, crowds half a dozen deep lined the streets of Batley as her funeral cortege passed through. Some had known her personally. Others had never met the mother of two, but felt compelled to share their sorrow at her senseless death.
It was a suitably dignified response to the shocking events of last month which forced this ordinary Yorkshire town to face the most extraordinary of circumstances.
Mrs Cox, who prized family life above all else, would no doubt have been touched by the presence of dozens of children from Norristhorpe Junior and Infant School who threw white roses into the road as the cars carrying the MP’s loved ones went slowly by.
Perhaps most touching of all were the posters which had been strung on lampposts and taped to the window of the constituency office which had become her second home.
‘Today I Pledge to Love Like Jo’ was written across the top and beneath her own quote that ‘far more unites us, than divides us’. Those words, taken from her maiden speech delivered just over a year ago, have been often repeated since her death.
However, never have they felt more poignant as young and old, from all political persuasions, stood together to say their final farewell to a MP, a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother.
With heads bowed and a gentle applause echoing through the streets, her words were a reminder that we should all promise to try to make the world a better place.
Fiennes plans latest challenge
He famously cut off his finger tips with a fretsaw to relieve the pain of frostbite and underwent a double heart bypass just before running seven marathons in seven continents in seven days. Indomitable and apparently indestructible, age has not wearied the force of nature which is Ranulph Fiennes.
At 72, the man rightly dubbed ‘the world’s greatest living explorer’ now plans to become the first person to cross both polar ice caps and climb the highest mountain on every continent on Earth.
If successful it will add to an already long list of achievements, from becoming the oldest person to scale Mount Everest to being the first person to cross Antarctica on foot.
And his adventures are just the start. Fiennes has also written 19 books, stood as a candidate in the European Elections and does more before breakfast than most of us do in a month. A true British icon and an example to us all.