Thu | Sep 20, 2018

Trump tweets strain US-Britain 'special relationship'

Published:Friday | December 1, 2017 | 12:00 AM
In this May 25, 2017, file photo, US President Donald Trump, right, speaks to British Prime Minister Theresa May during in a working dinner meeting at the NATO headquarters during a NATO summit of heads of state and government in Brussels.


A few days after his inauguration, US President Donald Trump stood beside British Prime Minister Theresa May in the White House and proclaimed the strength of the "most special relationship" between their two countries.

Ten months later, that relationship looks decidedly strained. As May and Trump traded criticism yesterday over his retweets of a far-right group's anti-Muslim videos, British lawmakers labelled the US leader a hate peddler. They also urged May's government to revoke an invitation for Trump to visit Britain as a guest of Queen Elizabeth II.

The furore erupted after Trump, who has almost 44 million Twitter followers, on Wednesday retweeted three anti-Muslim videos posted by a leader of the far-right group Britain First. The tiny group regularly posts inflammatory videos purporting to show Muslims engaged in acts of violence, but without providing context or supporting information.

The UK ambassador in Washington, Kim Darroch, complained to the White House, and May's spokesman said the president was wrong to retweet the group's content.

Trump responded with a tweet urging May to focus on "the destructive radical Islamic terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom" instead of on him.

May countered yesterday that "we take the need to deal with the terrorist threat very seriously" and rebuked the leader of Britain's closest ally.

"The fact that we work together does not mean that we are afraid to say when we think that the United States have got it wrong and to be very clear with them," May said yesterday during a visit to Amman, Jordan. "I am very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do."

London mayor urges gov't to scrap Trump visit

London Mayor Sadiq Khan was one of many politicians urging the Government to scrap the still-unscheduled state visit by US president Donald Trump that was first announced during Theresa May's trip to Washington in January.

Khan, the British capital's first Muslim mayor, said the American president had promoted "a vile, extremist group" and an official visit by him "would not be welcomed".

In the House of Commons yesterday, lawmakers criticised Trump in unusually blunt language. Labour's Naz Shah accused him of promoting "the hate-filled ideology of fascism". Conservative Tim Loughton said Twitter should take down Trump's account for peddling "hate crime".

The chill between London and Washington could not come at a worse time, as Britain prepares to leave the European Union and forge new economic relationships around the world.