Boris Johnson fails to condemn Donald Trump's 'horrendous' response to anti-racism protests

James Morris
·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2-min read

Boris Johnson has refused to condemn Donald Trump for his controversial response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The prime minister instead praised the US as a “bastion of peace and freedom”.

Johnson was pressed by SNP MP Kirsty Blackman to address the president’s “horrendous” handling of the anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

Trump’s response has included threatening to deploy the army to deal with protesters.

MANHATTAN, NY - JUNE 07:  Thousands of protesters wearing masks and holding signs crowd into Times Square to support Black Lives Matter.  This was part of the Black Lives Matter New York (BLMNY) protest that offered a Blueprint for change and called on New York state legislators and members of Congress to end the slaughter of Black persons by the very institutions charged with protecting them.  The Blueprint is a policy platform to reform failed statutes and regulations and to  begin reforming to a more civil and just society. This includes the I Can't Breathe Act, the Blue Wall Act, repealing of 50-A statute and includes housing and education reforms. Protesters keep taking to the streets across America and around the world after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer Derek Chauvin that was kneeling on his neck during his arrest as he pleaded that he couldn't breathe. The protest are attempting to give a voice to the need for human rights for African American's and to stop police brutality against people of color.  Many people were wearing masks and observing social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Photographed in the Manhattan Borough of New York on June 07, 2020, USA.  (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)"n"n"n
Black Lives Matter protesters in New York City on Sunday. (Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, his administration has said it has “no regrets” over tear gassing demonstrators outside the White House so Trump could take part in a photo opportunity at a church.

Johnson, who once said Trump has “many, many good qualities”, refused to condemn Trump on Wednesday, though unlike the president he said he supports the Black Lives Matter movement.

He told MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs): “I renew what I have said many times, it’s important for the House to hear it again. Yes, black lives matter and yes, the death of George Floyd was absolutely appalling.

“As for the qualities of Mr Trump, let me say amongst many other things, he is president of the US which is our most important ally in the world today.”

Boris Johnson refused to condemn Donald Trump at PMQs on Wednesday. (Parliamentlive.tv/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson refused to condemn Donald Trump at PMQs on Wednesday. (Parliamentlive.tv/Getty Images)

Johnson’s utterance of Trump’s name was barely audible.

He added: “Whatever people may say about it, whatever those on the left may say about it, the US is a bastion of peace and freedom – and has been for most of my lifetime.”

Johnson was later thanked for his comments by Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to the UK, who tweeted: “The Special Relationship is alive and well!”

Largely peaceful anti-racism protests have been sparked by the killing of Floyd, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last month.

Since becoming PM in July last year, Johnson has regularly been accused of failing to stand up to Trump’s controversial actions.

During the general election campaign, Johnson is thought to have avoided Trump when the president was in London for the NATO summit – out of fear of the president damaging his electoral prospects.

Meanwhile, addressing the anti-racism protests in the UK following Floyd’s killing, Johnson said at PMQs: “I understand the very strong and legitimate feelings of people in this country about the death of George Floyd, and of course I agree black lives matter.

“I must stress... it is absolutely vital that we keep our streets safe and we back our police.”