BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: UK Politics
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 23:30 GMT 00:30 UK
Blair puts UK on security alert
World Trade Center after the attack
The UK is on alert after the US terror attacks
The UK's airports, cities and government buildings are on heightened security alert following the terror attacks on the US.

All private aircraft have been grounded and no flights allowed on the normally busy flight paths over London until further notice.

Security steps
Airports on alert
All private planes grounded
No flights over London
Police across UK on alert
Defence facilities across world on alert
Business and finance institutions advised on extra measures
Cooperating with US, EU and other allies on security issues
Cabinet security meeting to be held on Weds morning
British citizens are being advised to take great care if they are living abroad in sensitive areas, to stay in their compounds, to avoid obvious areas of potential risk and to have great care for their safety.

Prime Minister Tony Blair outlined the measures as he condemned the "new evil" of mass terrorism.

In a statement in Downing Street after a meeting of the emergency Cabinet Cobra security committee, Mr Blair said: "No flights will take off from the UK for which we cannot apply the highest standards of security for aircrew and passengers."

He pledged that the UK would stand "should-to-shoulder" with the US in tracking down those responsible for the attacks.

Police officer at Heathrow
Security is being stepped up at Heathrow
He said: "This is not a battle between the US and terrorism - it is a battle between the free and democratic world and terrorism... we will not rest until this evil is driven from this world."

Britain has also offered the United States "whatever help" necessary to track down the perpetrators.

Consular staff in New York set up a helpline for British citizens in the city and their relatives and are keeping it open "for the foreseeable future".

Later Downing Street confirmed that Mr Blair had spoken to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, French President Jacques Chirac, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and Russian President Vladimir Putin about the terrorist attacks.

Emergency number
For Britons worried about friends and relatives in the US: 020 7008 0000
They had began discussions of how the international community would co-ordinate efforts in reaction to the events in New York and Washington.

A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Blair would speak to President Bush as soon as the time was right.

Earlier there had been a series of evacuations across the City of London - including the stock exchange where the FTSE 100 shares index plunged nearly 6%.

The British embassy and consulates in the US are preparing to stay open round the clock to aid UK nationals affected by the attacks.

An emergency number for Britons worried about friends and relatives has also been issued: 020 7008 0000.

The Queen, sending a message of sympathy to President Bush, expressed her "growing disbelief and total shock".

'Acts of evil'

There were widespread travel problems as American airspace was effectively closed, forcing widespread cancellations and some trans-Atlantic flights to turn back to the UK.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Home Secretary David Blunkett and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon were also at the security discussions in Downing Street - with a further meeting of the Cobra committee due at 0800 on Wednesday.

It's an act of war against civilisation

William Hague
Mr Blair said: "This mass terrorism is the new evil in our world today.

"It is perpetuated by fanatics who have no respect for the sanctity or value of human life and we, the democracies of this world, must come together to defeat it and eradicate it."

Speaking at the Foreign Office on Tuesday afternoon Mr Straw said the scenes from America were "acts of evil and horror beyond the imagination of any of us".

He said he had passed condolences onto Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State.

"I have also told the US government that we stand ready to give whatever help we can to assist in tracking down the perpetrators behind this evil and ensuring that they are brought to justice."

'Sickening outrages'

Outgoing Conservative leader William Hague, comparing the attacks to the Second World War strike on Pearl Harbor, said: "Whoever has committed these atrocities has committed a monstrous act of war against the civilised world.

"Britain must, and I am sure will, stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States of America and peaceful nations across the world in deploying every possible resource to bring to justice the people responsible, and make sure terrorism never prevails."

He announced that in the contest to find his successor as Tory leader the counting of votes and result, due on Wednesday, would be postponed 24 hours as a mark of respect.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said: "We offer our profound sympathies to the US public and to the families of the countless numbers that must have been killed and injured in this blatant set of attacks."

The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"As allies to America, the UK is not immune to risk"
See also:

11 Sep 01 | Scotland
Rescuers on US stand-by
11 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair's statement in full
11 Sep 01 | UK
UK buildings evacuated
11 Sep 01 | Americas
Could the planes have been stopped?
11 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair condemns terrorist 'evil'
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK Politics stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK Politics stories