Theresa May: Trump was ‘wrong’ to retweet far-right posts

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<> on September 30, 2013 in Manchester, England.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said Donald Trump was “wrong” to retweet posts from a British far-right group.

But she stressed the “special relationship” between Britain and the US was “in both our nations’ interests” and should continue.

And she rejected calls to cancel a state visit by the US president.

Speaking on a visit to Jordan, she said: “An invitation for a state visit has been extended and has been accepted. We have yet to set a date.”

Quizzed about Mr Trump’s tweets, she said: “The fact that we work together does not mean that we’re afraid to say when we think the United States has got it wrong, and be very clear with them.

“And I’m very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do.”

On Wednesday the US president retweeted three videos posted by the British far-right group.

The US and the UK are close allies and often described as having a “special relationship”. Theresa May was the first foreign leader to visit the Trump White House.

The row was raised in the House of Commons on Thursday morning with Home Secretary Amber Rudd saying she hoped Mrs May’s criticism “would have some impact on the president”.

Responding to a call by MP Peter Bone for the president to delete his Twitter account, she said: “It’s interesting to note [Mr Bone’s] advice regarding Twitter accounts – I’m sure many of us might share his view.”

Former Conservative minister Tim Loughton said if Twitter was “genuine in its commitment to fight hate crime online” it would delete the US president’s account.

Veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn asked whether Mr Trump should be “charged with inciting racial hatred” if he comes to the UK, a view echoed by fellow Labour MP Naz Shah.

The videos shared by Mr Trump, who has more than 40 million followers, were initially posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, a group founded by former members of the far-right British National Party.

Ms Fransen, 31, has been charged in the UK with using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” over speeches she made at a rally in Belfast.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the senior bishop in the Church of England, said it was “deeply disturbing” that Mr Trump had “chosen to amplify the voice of far-right extremists”.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said Mr Trump had “endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me”, adding: “He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan repeated his call the state visit to be cancelled, saying: “It beggars belief that the president of our closest ally doesn’t see that his support of this extremist group actively undermines the values of tolerance and diversity that makes Britain so great.”

After already condemning Mr Trump’s actions on Wednesday, Brendan Cox – whose wife, MP Jo Cox, was murdered by a right-wing extremist who shouted “Britain first” before committing the act – told the US president to focus on problems in his own country.

What did Trump retweet?

The first video purportedly shows a “Muslim migrant” attacking a young Dutch man on crutches. However, the claim in this tweet appears to have little substance.

A spokesperson from the Dutch Public Prosecution Service told the BBC that the person arrested for the attack “was born and raised in the Netherlands” and was not a migrant.

The Dutch embassy in Washington DC confirmed this on Twitter.

The second video retweeted by Mr Trump shows a man smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary.

This video was uploaded to YouTube in 2013. The man in the clip says: “No-one but Allah will be worshipped in the land of the Levant,” which could place him in Syria.

The third video originates from the riots that took place in Egypt in 2013, and shows a man being pushed from the top of a building in Alexandria. In 2015, those involved in the incident were prosecuted, and one man was executed.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Wednesday that Mrs May and other world leaders knew that “these are real threats that we have to talk about”.

“Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real,” she said.

What other reaction has there been?

Mr Trump’s actions on Wednesday were criticised by both Democrats and Republicans.

Republican Senator John McCain said he was “surprised” at the president’s tweets.

Meanwhile, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah said that Mrs May was “one of the great world leaders”, adding that he had “incredible love and respect for her”.

Khizr Khan, the father of US soldier Humayun Khan who was killed in the Iraq war, told Today: “[Mr Trump] holds the hatred. He is an actor, he acts and fabricates these facts to exploit people, innocent people, that fall victim to his bigotry and he sees the benefit.

“We all need to unite ourselves, all decent people of the world, against the menace of terrorism.”

Credit: BBC

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