Not welcome

Trump’s contemptuous tweet at Theresa May yesterday didn’t go down very well in the UK.

Trump’s message came in response to criticism from the British prime minister’s spokesman over the president’s retweeting of incendiary videos posted by the deputy leader of a British far-right group.

 

Justine Greening, the education secretary, said never mind the tweet, look at the bigger picture: allies, important, mustn’t let a tweet distract, etc.

Sajid Javid, the local government secretary, who is Muslim, took a much harder line. He posted on Twitter: “So POTUS has endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me. He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing.”

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who has previously clashed with Trump, also issued a strongly-worded statement of condemnation, calling on the prime minister to demand an apology.

Brendan Cox, widower of Jo Cox, an MP murdered last year by a man reportedly shouting “Britain first” as he shot and stabbed her, told CNN: “I think we probably got used to a degree of absurdity, of outrageous retweets and tweets from the president, but I think this felt like it was a different order.

“Here he was retweeting a felon, somebody who was convicted of religiously aggravated harassment, of an organisation that is a hate-driven organisation on the extreme fringes of the far, far right of British politics. This is like the president retweeting the Ku Klux Klan.”

US Democrats joined the condemnation. Keith Ellison, the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee and a Muslim member of Congress, branded the president “a racist”.

But the White House defended the retweets. The principal deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, told reporters on Air Force One: “We think that it’s never the wrong time to talk about security and public safety for the American people. Those are the issues he was raising with the tweets this morning.”

No, they are not. The three tweets had nothing to do with security and public safety for the American people. Trump didn’t mention security and public safety for the American people in those tweets. It would be as if Trump retweeted three racist videos of immigrants from North Korea and then his press people talked about Kim’s nukes – or, for that matter, it would be as if May or Merkel or Macron retweeted three xenophobic videos of Americans behaving badly and their press people said “But Trump!”

They should cancel the state visit.

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