Brussels explosions “deliberate attack” on European Union – MEP Richard Howitt
17:35 22 March 2016
East of England MEP Richard Howitt has said the explosions this morning in Brussels are a “deliberate attack” on the European Union.
Mr Howitt spoke to this paper from the main parliament building, which is around 500 metres from the targeted Maelbeek Metro Station.
Mr Howitt had been at the metro station 30 minutes before the attack and was making a committee vote on Europe’s global strategy, including tackling terrorism, when members were made aware of the explosion nearby, following which the building was put into lockdown.
Mr Howitt said: “Obviously it’s a deliberate attack on the European Union with the bombings at the station members use.
“It’s a very clear attempt to disrupt Europe.”
Members of the committee held a minute’s silence after hearing of the explosions at the airport. Members agreed to carry on with the votes, which was met with “spontaneous applause”, according to Mr Howitt.
He added: “We are fighting them (terrorists).
“They may be using bombs but we’re fighting using values, words and belief.”
He added: “These are people who want to get us into solos and fight each other, not trust each other, and we have to stand together and keep the common friendship.”
The MEP had spoken to his partner and his children before they left for school following the news of the explosions at Brussels Airport, telling them he was fine.
He made the call from Maelbeek station, half an hour before the explosion occurred.
However, Mr Howitt was keen to stress he was safe: “I’m shaken but I’m safe.
“It’s pretty much chaos. It’s chilling.
“No one is allowed in or out.
“We’re inside and the people inside are safe.”