London mayor leads renewed opposition to Trump state visit

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan leads renewed opposition to Trump state visit
3 min read
30 November, 2017
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said Trump's actions were "a betrayal of the special relationship between our two countries" as he led renewed calls to scrap the president's state visit.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has called for Trump's state visit to be cancelled [Getty]
Opposition to US President Donald Trump's impending state visit to Britain grew on Thursday as MPs and the Mayor of London condemned his apparent support for an aggressive far-right anti-Muslim group.

London's Labour mayor Sadiq Khan said it was "increasingly clear" that any official visit to the UK would not be welcomed.

"President Trump yesterday used Twitter to promote a vile, extremist group that exists solely to sow division and hatred in our country," Khan said in a statement.

"It beggars belief that the President of our closest ally doesn't see that his support for this extremist group actively undermines the values of tolerance and diversity."

The outrage followed Trump's retweet of three anti-Muslim videos posted by the deputy head of British neo-fascist group Britain First.

After Prime Minister Theresa May's initial condemnation, Trump retaliated with an unusual rebuke, telling her on Twitter: "Don't focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom."
President Trump yesterday used Twitter to promote a vile, extremist group that exists solely to sow division and hatred in our country
May repeated on Thursday that Trump's actions were wrong, but stressed that the US-UK "special relationship" would endure.

Speaking to reporters during a trip to Jordan, the prime minister stood her ground, defending her record on tackling extremism – including by the far right – while emphasising the strength of British-US ties.

"I'm very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do," May said, describing the group as a "hateful" organisation that "seeks to spread division".

But she stressed that Britain and America have "a long-term special relationship... it is an enduring relationship that is there because it's is in both our nations' interests".

Read also: Trump's retweet madness

May was the first foreign leader to visit Trump following his inauguration in January, where she offered him a prestigious state visit to Britain including a welcome by Queen Elizabeth II.

But opposition to the invitation has only grown.

Local Government Minister Sajid Javid said Trump had "endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me".

Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt added that Trump's tweets were "alarming and despairing", while angry opposition MPs called Interior Minister Amber Rudd to make an emergency statement to the House of Commons.

Addressing lawmakers, Rudd asked them to "look at the wider picture", saying UK-US intelligence sharing had "undoubtedly saved British lives".

Speaking in parliament on Thursday, politicians also called for Trump's Twitter account to be shut down.

Politicians also called for Trump's Twitter account to be shut down

British MPs say that Donald Trump should delete his Twitter account. If he won't get rid of his profile, then Twitter should do it for him, various politicians said in Parliament.

Conservative MP Peter Bone said: "One of the advantages of having such a special relationship with the United States is that when a friend tells us we have done something dreadfully wrong, we tend to listen.

"Would not the world be a better place if the Prime Minister could persuade the President of the United States to delete his Twitter account?"

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson late on Wednesday reiterated the hate speech touted by Britain First.

The British ambassador to the US also revealed he raised concerns over Trump's tweets with the White House.

While former president Barack Obama's foreign policy adviser had a warning about Trump.

In an extraordinary move, the Dutch embassy in Washington also stepped into the row and criticised Trump over one of the videos falsely claiming to show a Muslim migrant beating up a Dutch boy on crutches. 

Before Trump's latest missive, the White House had scrambled to limit the fallout, saying that even if the videos were misleading, "the threat is real".

Britain First, a small group with no political representation and best known for aggressive picketing outside mosques, has hailed Trump for his support.

Agencies contributed to this report