Jeremy Corbyn has declared that he does support the police shooting terrorists dead in the event of Paris-style attacks – amid mounting pressure from MPs for him to be tougher on the issue.
The Labour leader sparked anger from his own MPs on Monday by telling the BBC that he was "not happy with the shoot-to-kill policy in general". His comments came days after 129 people were killed in terror attacks in Paris on Friday.
MPs inside the meeting of the parliamentary Labour party said Corbyn dodged questions on whether ISIS terrorists should be shot dead on the street if innocent lives were at stake.
But in a fresh statement on Tuesday, Corbyn said: "As we have seen in the recent past, there are clear dangers to us all in any kind of shoot-to-kill policy. And we must ensure that terrorist attacks are not used to undermine the very freedoms and legal protections we are determined to defend.
"But of course I support the use of whatever proportionate and strictly necessary force is required to save life in response to attacks of the kind we saw in Paris."
Earlier on Monday, shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn said it was "right and reasonable" for police officers to be able to shoot terrorists when lives were at risk. He told the BBC's Today programme: "I can't answer for Jeremy. All I can say is what is the position in the party, the long-standing position in the UK.
"There are procedures – it's got to be reasonable, it's got to be proportionate, but you've got to protect human life. ... I think in those circumstances everybody would agree that it was right and reasonable, in those very difficult circumstances where there is an immediate threat to life, you are trying to stop more people being killed, then it is right within our procedures to use lethal force."
He added: "Now these are split-second decisions that the police and in certain circumstances the armed forces have to take. But you have to protect people. And our policy remains the same."
Benn also hit out at the Stop the War Coalition, which Corbyn chaired until becoming Labour leader, for blaming the West for the terror attacks in Paris.
A statement released at the weekend – which has now been deleted – was titled: "Paris reaps whirlwind of Western support for extremist violence in Middle East".
Benn said: "That shocking tweet, it was wholly wrong to say that. This was not the fault of the French and I'm glad that tweet was deleted. It is the fault of the attackers, they represent a threat to all of us."
Asked whether he would remain as shadow foreign secretary if Corbyn attended a planned Stop the War meeting in December, he simply said: "That is a decision for Jeremy."
And Benn also clashed with Corbyn over whether ISIS killer Mohammed Emwazi, also known as "Jihadi John", should have been arrested rather than targeted in an airstrike. David Cameron accused Corbyn on Monday of living in a fantasy world after he said Emwazi should have been tried in the courts.
Benn said: "There is no doubt he took part in the killing of a number of hostages including David Haines and Alan Henning, he presented a real threat. And therefore it was right in those circumstances to take the action that was taken by the Americans, with British support, because there was no realistic prospect of him being apprehended to face justice."
Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Emily Ashton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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