Borders MP Calum Kerr, who found himself caught in the middle of the horrific events at Westminster on Wednesday, has said democracy must go on in the face of terror.
The MP was walking from his office in Portcullis House to the House of Commons at the time of the terrible events unfolding and saw both the policeman who died at the scene and his attacker, who had been shot by police, lying on the ground, before he, and many other MPs and UK Government staff, were placed in a lockdown situation.
It was enough to scare most people, but yesterday, Mr Kerr remained resolute and returned to work as normal.
He said: “Today, I attended a minute’s silence to remember those killed in yesterday’s attack.
“There is nothing that I can say that will fully describe the respect I feel for the courage and professionalism shown by staff on the Parliamentary estate and the emergency services – particularly those members of the police who are charged with guarding democracy and who today are grieving for the loss of one of their number.
“My thoughts go out to the friends and loved ones of all who are now dealing with the awful outcome of this act.
“But the best way that we can pay tribute to those who have lost their lives in this mindless act of violence is to carry on with the day-to-day functioning of democracy.”
While in lockdown, Mr Kerr described what had happened.
He told us: ““I was coming across from Portcullis House as a vote had been called.
“Suddenly there was panic and people were running towards me shouting shots fired. Then armed police started running towards me heading towards Portcullis House.
“As a result I headed across towards the main chamber and saw what appeared to be two bodies down in New Palace Yard, surrounded by people who looked to be treating them.
“We were ushered inside and are currently in lockdown.”
By the end of Wednesday, five people, including the policeman – PC Keith Palmer – who had been stabbed at the gates to parliament, had died, and more than 40 were injured, most of them by a car which sped along the pavement of Westminster Bridge just before the events inside the grounds of parliament.
Mr Kerr said yesterday: “Today, the mood of calm defiance in Parliament is shared across all parties, amongst staff, MPs and security personnel.
“It has been a profoundly moving experience to see both Houses of Parliament up and running again: refusing to allow this event to change who we are or how we carry ourselves.
“As a politician who works in the heart of a city like London, in a world where events are so unpredictable, you’re acutely aware that such events might take place. But that still doesn’t prepare you for the terrible shock of witnessing the reality.
“Yesterday’s event is a deeply tragic reminder that my job – representing the voters of my constituency at Westminster – is only possible due to the work of those whose job it is to keep us all safe. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude that we can never repay.
“So our offices remain open, Parliament is sitting this morning and I will be sticking to my own schedule. In doing so I feel more privileged than ever to be here speaking up for my own part of the country.
“That work must go on.”
Mr Kerr’s reaction to the incident was praised by his predecessor, former MP Michael Moore.
Sharing a video of Mr Kerr being interviewed on Wednesday night by a BBC reporter, the former Scottish Secretary tweeted: “This clip from my successor @CalumKerrSNP sums up a terrible day - the shock, the sympathy and the quiet, all-important, defiance.”
In the clip, Mr Kerr said: ““We’ll be back in there tomorrow – it’s a democracy, we won’t let this impact what we do.”