Theresa May unveils new anti-terrorism measures. Photo: Getty
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What are Theresa May's new plans to combat terrorism?

The Home Secretary is to announce new measures to respond to the terror threat.

The Home Secretary Theresa May, who was busy over the weekend admitting the government's net migration level target was "unlikely" to be met, and stating her preference for Abba's Dancing Queen, will outline this week new government plans to combat terrorism. Her proposals will be part of the government's Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill.

They include:

 - Banning UK-based insurance companies from covering the cost of terrorist ransoms, in the hope that firms will be deterred from paying ransoms to terrorists who take hostages. The UK government refuses to pay ransoms and is hoping to curb families' opportunities to do so.

 - Permitting cancelling passports (for up to 30 days) of terror suspects at the border, in order to put people off going abroad to fight.

 - Controlling under what terms British citizens who are terror suspects return from overseas, by imposing temporary exclusion orders.

 - Mandating public bodies such as colleges, schools and prisons to work to prevent terrorism.

 - Firming up aviation security, for example, asking airlines to provide data on passengers rapidly and efficiently.

 - Adjusting Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs) so that the authorities can force terror suspects to move to different parts of the country, and also raising the burden of proof for imposing TPIMs from "reasonable belief" to "balance of probabilities".

 - Forcing companies to hand over details about who was using computers and mobile phones, and when, to the police.
 

These proposals arrive alongside a week-long public initiative that began this week to inform the public of how it can work to counter terrorism threats. According to the BBC, this action involves counter-terror authorities briefing more than 6,000 people at schools, universities, airports and publoc places like shopping centres and cinemas about what they can do to reduce the risk of a terror attack.

Counter-terror officers are also handing out information at railway stations. Students will learn about the "Prevent" strategy from police officers and even theatre groups, which is a strategy that helps guide young people against being drawn into terrorism.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn prompts Tory outrage as he blames Grenfell Tower fire on austerity

To Conservative cries of "shame on you!", the Labour leader warned that "we all pay a price in public safety" for spending cuts.

A fortnight after the Grenfell Tower fire erupted, the tragedy continues to cast a shadow over British politics. Rather than probing Theresa May on the DUP deal, Jeremy Corbyn asked a series of forensic questions on the incident, in which at least 79 people are confirmed to have died.

In the first PMQs of the new parliament, May revealed that the number of buildings that had failed fire safety tests had risen to 120 (a 100 per cent failure rate) and that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower was "non-compliant" with building regulations (Corbyn had asked whether it was "legal").

After several factual questions, the Labour leader rose to his political argument. To cries of "shame on you!" from Tory MPs, he warned that local authority cuts of 40 per cent meant "we all pay a price in public safety". Corbyn added: “What the tragedy of Grenfell Tower has exposed is the disastrous effects of austerity. The disregard for working-class communities, the terrible consequences of deregulation and cutting corners." Corbyn noted that 11,000 firefighters had been cut and that the public sector pay cap (which Labour has tabled a Queen's Speech amendment against) was hindering recruitment. "This disaster must be a wake-up call," he concluded.

But May, who fared better than many expected, had a ready retort. "The cladding of tower blocks did not start under this government, it did not start under the previous coalition governments, the cladding of tower blocks began under the Blair government," she said. “In 2005 it was a Labour government that introduced the regulatory reform fire safety order which changed the requirements to inspect a building on fire safety from the local fire authority to a 'responsible person'." In this regard, however, Corbyn's lack of frontbench experience is a virtue – no action by the last Labour government can be pinned on him. 

Whether or not the Conservatives accept the link between Grenfell and austerity, their reluctance to defend continued cuts shows an awareness of how politically vulnerable they have become (No10 has announced that the public sector pay cap is under review).

Though Tory MP Philip Davies accused May of having an "aversion" to policies "that might be popular with the public" (he demanded the abolition of the 0.7 per cent foreign aid target), there was little dissent from the backbenches – reflecting the new consensus that the Prime Minister is safe (in the absence of an attractive alternative).

And May, whose jokes sometimes fall painfully flat, was able to accuse Corbyn of saying "one thing to the many and another thing to the few" in reference to his alleged Trident comments to Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis. But the Labour leader, no longer looking fearfully over his shoulder, displayed his increased authority today. Though the Conservatives may jeer him, the lingering fear in Tory minds is that they and the country are on divergent paths. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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