Bedford MEP ‘chilled’ by Brussels attack

Richard Howitt MEP
Richard Howitt MEP

A Bedford MEP caught up in the terror attacks in Brussels admits he was left “shaken” following the deadly blasts.

Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for the East of England, was in Maelbaek Metro station just 30 minutes before it was bombed on Tuesday morning.

After witnessing a “terrible, murderous act” which killed 31 people, Mr Howitt says no-one can consider themselves safe.

He said: “It is chilling to have been so close to such an awful event.

“I was shaken, having been at the station just minutes before the bomb was detonated so called my family to try to reassure my own children before they left for school that I was safe.

“None of us can consider ourselves safe and the fight against terrorism must be a common fight.

“But terrorism succeeds by inflicting terror. Our response must be to stay calm and to continue as normal.”

After hearing of the first bomb at Brussels Airport, Mr Howitt went ahead to the European Parliament as usual where he joined fellow MEPs to observe a minute’s silence.

He said: “When we agreed to continue with the meeting, there was spontaneous applause amongst the Euro MPs - reflecting our common desire that democracy would defeat terrorism.”

But it wasn’t until after the vote on EU’s global strategy that Mr Howitt learnt of the second attack.

The European Parliament building was put on lockdown, with no-one able to enter or leave. Nine hours after the first attack, Mr Howitt left the building.

He added: “I am deeply proud that all of my European colleagues who stayed calm and cooperative with each other, determined to continue with our business.

“The common bonds we felt after the Paris attack, were strongly present again between all of the countries represented in Brussels.

“More than ever, we stand together against terrorism.”