Police in Edmonton, north London, yesterday. Photo: Getty
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Are beheadings terrorism? Palmira Silva was the third woman to be decapitated in London this year

On politicising a tragedy.

Yesterday, an 82-year-old woman called Palmira Silva was killed in her garden in Edmonton, north London. 

She is the hundredth woman killed by a man this year; the first was 87-year-old Elsie Mowbray, who died in hospital on 8 January from injuries sustained when her house was burgled on New Year's Day. A 33-year-old man has been charged. The 50th, according to the list maintained by campaigner Karen Ingala Smith, was Ann Maguire - the teacher stabbed in her classroom. 

I was shocked when I read of Palmira Silva's death - not by the fact of it, unfortunately, but because of the way in which it happened. She was beheaded.

The assailant is alleged to be a 25-year-old man, who "waved a machete-like weapon as he wandered screaming and shouting through private gardens", according to the Guardian.

Let's take a moment to talk about connections. 

The Sun's front page this morning reports that the alleged perpetrator was a "Muslim convert". Inside, its report reads:

"The killing follows the brutal beheadings on video of two US journalists by IS jihadists. But police yesterday stressed there was no evidence of a terrorist connection."

Oddly enough, like the Sun, my thoughts immediately went to the IS beheadings when I heard about this story, too - albeit for totally different reasons. On Tuesday, I wrote a piece on how revenge porn, hacked photos and online harassment were, in my opinion, forms of "terrorism". They are not intended merely to harm the individuals targeted, but to create a spectacle which makes all women feel a little more insecure, a little more afraid.

The reaction was, shall we say, mixed. Among the critical comments, one theme repeatedly came up: I was "hysterical" to compare "real terrorism" with having naked photos published on the internet. Many a wag tweeted me to the effect that they would rather get online abuse than their head chopped off in Iraq.

Because I am nothing if not willing to pour hours into pointless arguments, I replied to some of these men (#notallmen) that of course, the comparison wasn't perfect and true in every way - it would not then be a comparison. They would just be literally the same thing. But I still think the similarities of intent, method and effect are noteworthy.

And then a woman had her head chopped off, not ten miles from where I live and work. 

Now, I have no idea whether Palmira Silva was targeted because she was a woman. We might never know this. She might have tried to be compassionate to the killer, she might have known him a little, she might have simply been the first person in his way. 

But here is the second shocking fact about the way she died: Palmira Silva is the third woman to be beheaded in London this year. 

On 3 June, a 38-year-old woman called Tahira Ahmed was found decapitated at her home in West London. The neighbours reported hearing a loud argument. Her husband has been charged with her murder.

In April, 60-year-old woman called Judith Nibbs was beheaded in Shoreditch. Her 67-year-old estranged husband was found at the scene. Police are not looking for anyone else. The day after Judith died, her daughter - who is severely disabled - tweeted the single word: "Mum?"

In the last few years, Karen Ingala Smith - the CEO of the charity which I chair, Nia - has maintained a list of every woman killed by a man in this country. Yesterday, she wrote about beheadings. As well as Judith Nibbs and Tahira Ahmed, she has recorded others:

Last year, in June, Reema Ramzan, 18, was decapitated by boyfriend, Aras Hussain, 21. The year before, in October 2012, Catherine Gowing, 39, was decapitated and raped by serial rapist Clive Sharp, 47. In March the same year Elizabeth Coriat, 76, was decapitated by her son Daniel Coriat, 43; earlier the same month, Gemma McCluskie, 29, had been decapitated by her brother Tony McCluskie, 36.  

In May, she wrote about Ann Maguire, the 50th woman to die this year. It was not an "isolated incident", she argued: "Between April 2001 and March 2012 . . . 31.8 per cent of homicide victims were women, 68.2 per cent were men. 6.1 per cent of people convicted of murder were women, 93.9 per cent were men". In other words, men kill men, men kill women - but women only rarely kill anyone at all. 

I remember the response to Karen's piece: many people were angry with her at talking about male violence in this context. Some accused her of "politicising a tragedy" or "scoring points".

If you want to talk about politicising a tragedy, let's talk about the death of Palmira Silva. Why did her death make the front pages, when Judith Nibbs and Tahira Ahmed did not?

Because she was not allegedly killed by an ex-partner or family member, which is "normal".

Because her death seems to be random - it could have happened to anyone, even a man.

Because terrorism is real when it's Islamists against the west, but violence against women is just the background hum of our lives. 

This year, in the city where I live, in twenty-first century Britain with its smartphones and coalition government and internet commenters telling me that feminism has gone too far, three women have been beheaded. 

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

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MPs Seema Malhotra and Stephen Kinnock lay out a 6-point plan for Brexit:

Time for Theresa May to lay out her priorities and explain exactly what “Brexit means Brexit” really means.

Angela Merkel has called on Theresa May to “take her time” and “take a moment to identify Britain’s interests” before invoking Article 50. We know that is code for the “clock is ticking” and also that we hardly have any idea what the Prime Minister means by “Brexit means Brexit.”

We have no time to lose to seek to safeguard what is best in from our membership of the European Union. We also need to face some uncomfortable truths.

Yes, as remain campaigners we were incredibly disappointed by the result. However we also recognise the need to move forward with the strongest possible team to negotiate the best deal for Britain and maintain positive relationships with our nearest neighbours and allies. 
 
The first step will be to define what is meant by 'the best possible deal'. This needs to be a settlement that balances the economic imperative of access to the single market and access to skills with the political imperative to respond to the level of public opinion to reduce immigration from the EU. A significant proportion of people who voted Leave on 23 June did so due to concerns about immigration. We must now acknowledge the need to review and reform. 

We know that the single market is founded upon the so-called "four freedoms", namely the free movement of goods, capital, services and people & labour. As things stand, membership of the single market is on an all-or-nothing basis. 

We believe a focus for negotiations should be reforms to how the how the single market works. This should address how the movement of people and labour across the EU can exist alongside options for greater controls on immigration for EU states. 

We believe that there is an appetite for such reforms amongst a number of EU governments, and that it is essential for keeping public confidence in how well the EU is working.

So what should Britain’s priorities be? There are six vital principles that the three Cabinet Brexit Ministers should support now:

1. The UK should remain in the single market, to the greatest possible extent.

This is essential for our future prosperity as a country. A large proportion of the £17 billion of foreign direct investment that comes into the UK every year is linked to our tariff-free access to a market of 500 million consumers. 

Rather than seeking to strike a "package deal" across all four freedoms, we should instead sequence our approach, starting with an EU-wide review of the freedom of movement of people and labour. This review should explore whether the current system provides the right balance between consistency and flexibility for member states. Indeed, for the UK this should also address the issue of better registration of EU nationals in line with other nations and enforcement of existing rules. 

If we can secure a new EU-wide system for the movement of people and labour, we should then seek to retain full access to the free movement of goods, capital and services. This is not just in our interests, but in the interests of the EU. For other nation states to play hardball with Britain after we have grappled first with the complexity of the immigration debate would be to ignore rather than act early to address an issue that could eventually lead to the end of the EU as we know it.

2. In order to retain access to the single market we believe that it will be necessary to make a contribution to the EU budget.

Norway, not an EU member but with a high degree of access to the single market, makes approximately the same per capita contribution to the EU budget as the UK currently does. We must be realistic in our approach to this issue, and we insist that those who campaigned for Leave must now level with the British people. They must accept that if the British government wishes to retain access to the single market then it must make a contribution to the EU budget.

3. The UK should establish an immigration policy which is seen as fair, demonstrates that we remain a country that is open for business, and at the same time preventing unscrupulous firms from undercutting British workers by importing cheap foreign labour.  

We also need urgent confirmation that EU nationals who were settled here before the referendum as a minimum are guaranteed the right to remain, and that the same reassurance is urgently sought for Britons living in mainland Europe. The status of foreign students from the EU at our universities must be also be clarified and a strong message sent that they are welcomed and valued. 

4. The UK should protect its financial services industry, including passporting rights, vital to our national prosperity, while ensuring that the high standards of transparency and accountability agreed at an EU level are adhered to, alongside tough new rules against tax evasion and avoidance. In addition, our relationship with the European Investment Bank should continue. Industry should have the confidence that it is business as usual.

5. The UK should continue to shadow the EU’s employment legislation. People were promised that workers’ rights would be protected in a post-Brexit Britain. We need to make sure that we do not have weaker employment legislation than the rest of Europe.

6. The UK should continue to shadow the EU’s environmental legislation.

As with workers’ rights, we were promised that this too would be protected post-Brexit.  We must make sure we do not have weaker legislation on protecting the environment and combatting climate change. We must not become the weak link in Europe.

Finally, it is vital that the voice of Parliament and is heard, loud and clear. In a letter to the Prime Minister we called for new joint structures – a Special Parliamentary Committee - involving both Houses to be set up by October alongside the establishment of the new Brexit unit. There must be a clear role for opposition parties. It will be equally important to ensure that both Remain and Leave voices are represented and with clearly agreed advisory and scrutiny roles for parliament. Representation should be in the public domain, as with Select Committees.

However, it is also clear there will be a need for confidentiality, particularly when sensitive negotiating positions are being examined by the committee. 

We call for the establishment of a special vehicle – a Conference or National Convention to facilitate broader engagement of Parliament with MEPs, business organisations, the TUC, universities, elected Mayors, local government and devolved administrations. 

The UK’s exit from the EU has dominated the political and economic landscape since 23 June, and it will continue to do so for many years to come. It is essential that we enter into these negotiations with a clear plan. There can be no cutting of corners, and no half-baked proposals masquerading as "good old British pragmatism". 

The stakes are far too high for that.