LONDON — Furious Londoners have rejected the defeated and divisive narrative being sold to American television viewers by British pundits like Nigel Farage and Katie Hopkins in the aftermath of the city’s worst terror attack since the 7/7 bombings in 2005.
Fox News viewers heard British voices claiming that London was “cowed” and “afraid” after three people died in Westminster on Wednesday.
“Every word of that completely untrue,” said Simon Schama, author of the three-volume A History of Britain. “Beautiful London this morning brimming with vitality, not mortality—another defeat for murderous fanaticism.”
Hopkins, a right-wing talking head and former contestant on Britain’s version of The Apprentice, told Fox News that Britain was more divided against itself than at any time in history. Farage, former leader of the U.K. Independence Party and a leading Brexit campaigner, was the “first foreign leader” to visit then-President-elect Donald Trump in November.
“People are cowed, people are afraid, and people are not united,” Hopkins said. “What I’m tired of hearing on the media everywhere at the moment here is ‘We will not be cowed by terror, we stand united.’ Because the big news is that’s the message in London. That is not the message here in the U.K. Great Britain is more disunited… than any time in its past.”
In reality dozens of people rushed to the aid of those injured and a serving Member of Parliament fought valiantly to save a catastrophically injured police officer, while MPs defiantly returned to work as usual on Thursday after the first terrorist attack on the House of Commons since the 1970s.
“The traitor Katie Hopkins spreading lies to boost enemy morale,” comedy writer Pete Sinclair wrote on Twitter.
“If it was up to me I’d take Hopkins and Farage’s British passports away and tell them to fuck off,” wrote Emma Kennedy, a well-known British author and actress. “Her and Farage have zero understanding that they’re doing terrorists’ job for them. Stay indoors everyone! We’re terrified.”
“I can’t think of a more unpatriotic move than for Hopkins to go on @FoxNews and tell Americans Londoners are terrified.”
James Cleverly, a Conservative Member of Parliament, who was friends with murdered police officer Keith Palmer for more than 20 years, also lashed out at Hopkins on Twitter “I’m on a train heading towards Westminster. No one is cowed, afraid or divided. Please stop your stupid attention seeking comments.”
One of those killed was named by local media in Utah as American Kurt Cochran, who was on vacation with his wife Melissa. She is being treated for her injuries. A media agency linked to the Islamic State terror group said the nameless assailant was one of their own Thursday, though it produced no evidence and routinely makes such claims after high-profile attacks.
Londoners were apalled by the first attack on Parliament—the democratic heart of the capital—in a generation, but even as the sun went down on Westminster on Wednesday night, the pubs and restaurants were full as people vowed to keep calm and carry on.
After a minute’s silence on Thursday at 9:33 a.m. (local time), London got back to work.
Farage, who is a Fox News contributor and close Trump associate, told Americans protesting against Trump’s attempts at a Muslim ban that they should think again after Wednesday’s terror attack.
The former UKIP leader claimed that Britain’s problems had started when then-Prime Minister Tony Blair said he wanted a “multicultural Britain” in the 1990s.
“We’ve made some terrible mistakes in this country,” Farage told Sean Hannity. “We’ve finished up with very divided communities and I’m sorry to say we have a fifth column.”
“Surely an American audience seeing this horrendous thing happening in Westminster today should say to itself that when Donald Trump tries to put in place vetting measures, he’s doing it to protect your country. Frankly, if you open your door to uncontrolled immigration from Middle Eastern countries, you are inviting in terrorism.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May slapped Farage down during an address to the House of Commons on Thursday morning when she confirmed that security agencies knew the identity of the terrorist and said he had been born in Britain. Police forces across the country arrested eight people in raids overnight. Some of those raids were in Birmingham, where it is reported that the car used to kill people as they crossed Westminster Bridge had been hired.
“A lot has been said since terror struck London yesterday. Much more will be said in the coming days,” May said. “But the greatest response lies not in the words of politicians, but in the everyday actions of ordinary people. For beyond these walls today—in scenes repeated in towns and cities across the country—millions of people are going about their days and getting on with their lives. The streets are as busy as ever. The offices full. The coffee shops and cafes bustling. As I speak millions will be boarding trains and airplanes to travel to London, and to see for themselves the greatest city on Earth.”
Chris Bryant, the former deputy leader of the House of Commons, also spoke out against the dystopian vision of London being conjured up on Rupert Murdoch’s TV network.
“Dear @FoxNews London isn’t shut down. Parliament is sitting and we’re debating equalities,” he wrote.
James Moran, a screenwriter who worked on shows including Doctor Who and Torchwood, said the unique nature of London could never be altered.
“The only things that shut down London: (a) leaves, (b) 3 flakes of snow, (c) when you try to get on trains without letting people off first,” he wrote “Now let’s carry on being Londoners. Rude, always in a hurry, and completely ignoring each other, LIKE GOD INTENDED.”