A defiant Theresa May led tributes to murdered police officer Keith Palmer yesterday, hailing him “every inch a hero” whose actions would never be forgotten.
The prime minister also insisted “our resolve will never waiver” in the face of terrorism as she updated MPs in the Commons on Wednesday’s attack in Westminster.
And she said the best response was found in the “millions of acts of normality” happening across the country.
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke of the “human impulse for solidarity to stand together in times of darkness and adversity”.
Meanwhile, SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson said, not withstanding differences on political and constitutional issues, “we are as one in our dedication to democracy”.
Also present in one of the side galleries was French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Informing MPs of his attendance, Commons speaker John Bercow said: “Sir, we appreciate your presence and your very fitting display of solidarity with us.”
Three French schoolchildren were among those injured in the attack, alongside people of several nationalities on Westminster Bridge.
Earlier in the day, MPs had gathered in the chamber to hold a minute’s silence, which was also observed at Tube stations around London and in Holyrood.
The specific time of 9.33am was chosen because PC Palmer’s shoulder number was 933.
Flags were also flown at half mast, books of condolences organised and church services held for parliamentary staff.
All the while, reminders of Wednesday’s horrific events remained with parts of the parliamentary estate still cordoned off.
Throughout yesterday morning, a team of blue-coated forensic experts in a long line combed the ground for clues.
Addressing MPs, Mrs May said the message from parliament should be: “We are not afraid – and our resolve will never waiver in the face of terrorism.
“We meet here, in the oldest of all parliaments, because we know that democracy – and the values it entails – will always prevail.
“This was an attack on free people everywhere.”
Recognising PC Palmer’s bravery, she added: “He was every inch a hero. And his actions will never be forgotten.”
Mrs May also confirmed that the attacker, shot dead on the parliamentary estate, was British born and had some years ago been investigated in relation to concerns about violent extremism.
The Tory leader described him as a “peripheral figure”, however who was not part of the “current intelligence picture”.
She added: “There was no prior intelligence of his intent – or of the plot.”
Concluding she told MPs: “We saw the worst of humanity, but we will remember the best.
“Much more will be said in the coming days, but the greatest response lies not in the words of politicians, but in the everyday actions of ordinary people.
“It is in these actions – millions of acts of normality – that we find the best response to terrorism.
“A response that denies our enemies their victory, that refuses to let them win, that shows we will never give in.
“A response that says to the men and women who propagate this hate and evil – you will not defeat us.”
Responding from the Labour frontbench, Mr Corbyn said: “It is by demonstrating our values of solidarity, community, humanity and love that we will defeat the poison and division of hatred.”
Moray MP Mr Robertson added: “Today of all days we are reminded that, notwithstanding our differences on political and constitutional issues, we are as one in our dedication to democracy, the rule of law and harmony between peoples of all faiths and none.”