DCSIMG

Airport attack nothing to do with Brown's Scottish roots, says No 10

DOWNING Street yesterday played down suggestions that the attacks on Glasgow Airport had been motivated by Gordon Brown's Scottish origins.

A spokesman insisted: "The Prime Minister's view is that the attacks could have happened anywhere in the country."

When pressed on whether they were directed at the new government, he said: "These attacks could have happened at any time, anywhere in the country."

The terror attacks have proved a test of judgment and discretion for both Mr Brown and Alex Salmond, the First Minister, requiring them to suppress any desire to score partisan points and focus instead on reassuring a nervous public about their political leadership. And, so far, both men have passed.

For the Prime Minister, the attacks have cast a dark shadow over his long-planned first few days in office. Yesterday, he was forced to postpone a Commons statement on his plans for more constitutional reform.

Tony McNulty, a Home Office minister, said that calls for new, tougher control orders on terror suspects were "worth exploring", but he, like other government sources, insisted ministers would not rush, and instead were seeking to build cross-party consensus before bringing forward new plans.

During the bitter Holyrood election battle, John Reid, the then home secretary, outraged many Nationalists with a speech appearing to suggest that an independent Scotland would be at greater risk of terrorist attack, because it would be cut off from the London-based security apparatus.

The contrast offered by his successor yesterday could not have been more stark. In a Commons statement that drew praise from all parties, Jacqui Smith took time to thank the Scottish Executive for its co-operation on the "pan-UK" threat, and spoke of her "important" talks with the First Minister. Mr Salmond, too, has avoided confrontational rhetoric. While some of his MSPs are straining to make the argument that terrorism is a product of UK government foreign policy, the First Minister has spoken only of his co-operation with London ministers.

He praised the "excellent" level of co-operation between himself and Mr Brown and the respective emergency committees in London and Edinburgh. "The communication has been total, north and south of the Border, and the determination to stand up in solidarity to those criminals effecting damage in our communities has also been total," he said.

On only one point has he strained the cross-Border consensus. Asked about reports that the UK government was considering new legislation allowing police to detain suspected terrorists for 90 days without trial, Mr Salmond replied: "We have not been persuaded about the necessity for that."

COMMENT, PAGE 31

 
 
 

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