‘Everyone was surprisingly calm, there was an air of solidarity’: What happened inside Parliament on Wednesday
Politics isn’t always friendly, but it was yesterday
It was just an ordinary Wednesday, just two hours before the attack to place, Prime Minister’s Questions was on and May and Corbyn were having their usual slanging match.
Then the mood just changed. I only found out what was going on through a Facebook group chat, yet there was still confusion.
At first there wasn’t a lot of information going on. There was confusion in the office corridor, but everyone stayed in their offices for the most part. We were then told over an announcement to stay put until further notice before being moved by a Police Officer into one of the many lobbies.
Armed police were everywhere, a lot more than usual, but in all honesty it was more comforting than scary. We new we were in safe hands and would be until it was all over.
I decided to tell my family and friends that there was a serious incident going on but I was safe. People then bombarded my inbox asking what was going on, quite frankly I knew nothing more than they did. I was getting updates from my phone like everyone else.
They decided to move everyone out of the offices and into a more communal space. The atmosphere was a lot different to what I was expecting to see. It was relatively calm, an air of solidarity. Parliament is a place of politics, politics isn’t always friendly, but it was yesterday. Members of the House of Lords were arranging for chairs and water to be brought in. Already there was a sense of fearlessness that although this was a blatant attack on democracy, it would not stop it.
Unfortunately my phone had ran out of charge, so I was unable to keep up to date with what was going on. At one point I even ended up chatting to Ed Miliband who was going round talking to the younger people in the room, he’s a friendly bloke. He even said “I’m sorry we didn’t meet in better circumstances”.
It was more of a shock to the system more than anything. The security in parliament is already tight, to initially think that this was breached was quite scary. The PM said today that the security wasn’t breached, the attacker did not enter the parliamentary estate. That’s important, it shows that the police are well trained and can respond with in a blink of a second.
We see events like this on the TV and we never think they will happen to us. I remember saying to my friend who is now doing a year abroad in Belgium after the Brussels attack who was understandably scared that “to be honest I’m most at risk doing a placement in Parliament because it’s the home of democracy so it’s a target”. I said this still believing I’d never actually be caught up in it.
On Wednesday, everyone was grateful for the police, parliament security and the staff of the House of Commons who helped everyone in a time of true crisis. The catering staff still worked, providing everyone with cups of water.
I happened to be in the right place at the right time, others were not and that is a true tragedy. It’s at times like this that you appreciate that everyday, all around the world people risk their lives to let us go about our daily business.