A decade of terror and tragedy

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It was a turbulent 10 years packed with political turmoil.

The public went to the polls in four general elections and a referendum that divided the nation and shaped the decade’s later years.

But it was the dozens of lives lost in the Manchester Arena bombing, the Grenfell Tower blaze and a series of violent attacks across the capital that saw the decade defined by terror and tragedy.

The shocking deaths of MP Jo Cox – shot and stabbed to death by neo-Nazi Thomas Mair in her constituency in 2016 – and Fusilier Lee Rigby – rammed with a car before being hacked to death in 2013 – horrified the nation.

Review of the Decade
Rebecca Rigby, the wife of Fusiler Lee Rigby, and son Jack leave Bury Parish church after a vigil on the eve of his funeral (Martin Rickett/PA)

Relatives and survivors are still searching for answers after the inquiry’s phase one report, published more than two years after the tragedy, found the London Fire Brigade’s preparation for a tower block blaze to be “gravely inadequate”.

Review of the Decade
The fire at Grenfell Tower in west London claimed the lives of 72 people (Natalie Oxford/PA)

In 2017, election campaigning was suspended for three days when 22 lives were claimed following an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert.

Review of the Decade
A policeman points a gun at Khalid Masood, on the floor at the top of the frame, as emergency services attend the scene outside the Palace of Westminster where Pc Keith Palmer was stabbed (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Dramatic changes to the UK’s political landscape began in 2010, when the Conservative Party gained power for the first time since 1997 in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

Review of the Decade – Politics
Conservative Party leader David Cameron followed by the media as he does some door to door leafleting in Hucknall in Nottinghamshire after he had campaigned through the night in a final push for votes in the general election in 2010 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

David Cameron returned to Number 10 as the head of a majority government the following year, delivering a crushing blow to Labour’s Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg, who both went on to quit as party leaders.

Review of the Decade – Politics
David Cameron and his wife Samantha are applauded by staff upon entering 10 Downing Street as he began his second term as Prime Minister (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The biggest political controversy of the decade was the UK voting to leave the EU after 52% of the public supported Brexit in 2016.

It was a victory for then Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who became one of the most recognisable political figures of the decade, and a humiliating defeat for Mr Cameron, who brought an abrupt end to his six-year premiership with a hasty resignation.

Review of the Decade – Politics
Nigel Farage at the Leave EU party in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Johnson promised to lead a “One Nation” government and urged people “to find closure and to let the healing begin” following a landslide Tory victory that saw the party win its biggest majority in Westminster since the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher.

Review of the Decade – Politics
Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves on the steps of 10 Downing Street (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

After 18 months of campaigning – often bitter, frequently bizarre and sometimes barely believable – Donald Trump triumphed over Hillary Clinton and was elected President of the United States.

Review of the Decade – Politics
US President Donald Trump walks with Prime Minister Theresa May prior to a joint press conference at Chequers (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Spells of flooding destroyed homes while the “Beast from the East” froze the British isles in 2018, just a year before the UK recorded its hottest day on record.

Winter weather March 1st 2018
Ice climbers on the downfall at Kinder Downfall, High Peak in March 2018 (Peter Byrne/PA)

WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange spent seven years of the decade seeking asylum in London’s Ecuadorean embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden on a rape allegation he had always denied.

Swedish authorities discontinued the rape investigation in November but, after being dramatically removed from the embassy building in April, Assange was jailed for 50 weeks in May for breaching his bail conditions.

Review of the Year 2019
Julian Assange arrives at Westminster Magistrates’ Court (Victoria Jones/PA)

Police linked the attack to another poisoning some months later, when Dawn Sturgess died in hospital after handling a contaminated perfume bottle.

Review of the Decade
Personnel in hazmat suits waiting for decontamination after securing a tent covering a bench in the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury, where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found critically ill by exposure to nerve agent novichok (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Mark Duggan’s death at the hands of a Metropolitan Police marksman sparked nationwide riots and days of unrest in summer 2011, as buildings were set alight and protesters engaged in stand-offs with riot police.

Review of the Decade
A fire rages through a building in Tottenham, north London where trouble flared after members of the community took to the streets demanding ‘justice’ after Mark Duggan was shot dead by police (Lewis Whyld/PA)

Officers have been deployed in their masses for a series of protests across the decade, including at demos against student fee increases in 2010, anti-Brexit marches and, most recently, action staged by Extinction Rebellion.

Review of the Year 2019
Police removing Extinction Rebellion demonstrators from Waterloo Bridge in London (Victoria Jones/PA)

The 2012 murders of schoolgirls April Jones, five, from Machynlleth in west Wales, and Tia Sharp, 12, from south-east London, prompted an outpouring of grief.

And police forces found themselves under pressure from a rise in knife crime, with scores of teenagers stabbed to death on the nation’s streets in recent years.

Review of the Decade
A Metropolitan Police forensic officer places a knife in an evidence box, close to Ashton playing fields where a 16-year-old boy was stabbed to death, in Woodford Bridge, Essex (John Stillwell/PA)

The actions of the press also came under scrutiny in Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into media standards. A series of revelations about phone hacking saw the closure of the News Of The World in 2011 and recommendations were made about the future of press regulation.

Despite some years filled with devastating lows, Britain gloried in a string of dramatic highs in 2012. The country became a sea of red, white and blue for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, ahead of the Olympic and Paralympic Games held in the capital later that year.

Royal visit to North East
Three year-old Izzy Jerram waves her flags outside Durham Castle as she waits for the arrival of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh as part of the Diamond Jubilee visit to the North East (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Interest in the royal family rose in 2011, when a then 28-year-old Prince William married Kate Middleton in a fairy-tale wedding held at Westminster Abbey.

Review of the Decade – Royal
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their wedding (Chris Ison/PA)

All eyes were on a second royal wedding some seven years later, when Prince Harry married American actress Meghan Markle in a lavish and star-studded ceremony at Windsor Castle that was watched by millions on both sides of the Atlantic.

Review of the Decade – Royal
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex kiss on the steps of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle following their wedding (Danny Lawson/PA)

Some 888,246 hand-made ceramic flowers provided a scene of remembrance in November 2014 as the nation marked 100 years since the start of the First World War. There were also events for the 70th anniversary of D-Day, with elderly veterans making what was for many their last visit to Normandy to commemorate the events of June 6 1944.

Review of the Deacde
Members of the public look at the ceramic poppies which form part of the art installation Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red by artist Paul Cummins at the Tower of London (Chris Radburn/PA)

Anders Breivik, disguised as a policeman, killed 77 people in two separate gun attacks in Norway in 2011.

Paris became a target for terrorism in 2015, when gunmen stormed the building of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and months later targeted the Bataclan concert hall.

Paris Terror Attack
Floral tributes outside the Bataclan Theatre in memory of the victims of the Paris attacks (Adam Davy/PA)

In 2016, some 32 people were killed in terror attacks on Brussels and more than 80 were murdered in Nice when a lone terrorist drove a lorry into crowds celebrating Bastille Day.

Bastille Day lorry attack
People sit in front of tributes placed where bodies fell on the Promenade des Anglais, Nice (Ben Birchall/PA)

Former entertainer Jimmy Savile was exposed as a serial child sex abuser in 2012, leading to the launch of Operation Yewtree, a criminal investigation into widespread sexual abuse.

Allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein began to emerge in October 2017 – claims he has denied. The story developed as more women began to share their stories of harassment and assault in Hollywood and beyond.

Bonfire night 2017
The Edenbridge Bonfire Society celebrity guy, Harvey Weinstein, is set on fire in Edenbridge, Kent, in 2017 (John Stillwell/PA)

The attack came just weeks after the UK’s terrorism threat level was downgraded to “substantial” from “severe”.

Review of the Year 2019
Forensic personnel on London Bridge in central London (Yui Mok/PA)

But with the nation divided over one of most contentious political issues of modern times, Mr Johnson’s top priority will be to keep his promise to end Brexit uncertainty by ensuring Britain starts the new decade by leaving the EU as soon as possible.

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