Jeremy Corbyn warns Theresa May she 'cannot stay silent' over Donald Trump's Charlottesville response

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Jeremy Corbyn said Donald Trump 'should unequivocally condemn those who want to reverse the achievements of the civil rights movement': PA
Jeremy Corbyn said Donald Trump 'should unequivocally condemn those who want to reverse the achievements of the civil rights movement': PA

Jeremy Corbyn has warned Theresa May she "cannot stay silent" over Donald Trump after the Prime Minister refused to criticise the US President for his comments on far-right violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Labour leader accused Mr Trump of "refusing categorically to denounce white supremacists and neo-Nazi violence" and called on Ms May to condemn his response to the clashes.

The Prime Minister had earlier contradicted the Republican's suggestion there were similarities between white supremacist groups and anti-racism campaigners but stopped short of directly criticising Mr Trump.

Speaking during a visit to Portsmouth after returning from her summer break, Ms May said: "I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them. I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far right views wherever we hear them.”

Her refusal to directly condemn Mr Trump led Mr Corbyn to warn the Prime Minister she could not "remain silent".

"We all have a responsibility to condemn racism in the strongest terms wherever it rears its ugly head," he said. "Donald Trump should unequivocally condemn those who want to reverse the achievements of the civil rights movement and take us back to the days of Jim Crow.

"And Theresa May cannot remain silent while the US President refuses categorically to denounce white supremacists and neo-Nazi violence."

Mr Trump triggered an angry backlash after refusing to directly condemn white supremacist groups and then drawing comparisons between them and left-wing campaigners.

He was responding to violent clashes between far-right groups and anti-racism protestors in Charlottesville that left 32-year-old Heather Heyer dead and several others injured.

Speaking during a press conference at Trump Tower in New York, Mr Trump said: "You had a group on one side and group on the other and they came at each other with clubs. There is another side, you can call them the left, that came violently attacking the other group.

“You had people that were very fine people on both sides...Not all those people were neo-Nazis, not all those people were white supremacists.”

The comments were welcomed by David Duke, the former head of the Ku Klux Klan, who said: "Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorists.”

Other leading Conservatives were significantly stronger than Ms May in their criticism of Mr Trump.

Sajid Javid, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, tweeted: “Neo-Nazis: bad. Anti-Nazis: good. I learned that as a child. It was pretty obvious.”

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, said: “The President of the United States has just turned his face to the world to defend Nazis, fascists and racists. For shame.”

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