Theresa May has hit back at Donald Trump after the President urged her to ‘focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the UK‘.
Speaking from Jordan, the Prime Minister said that she is ‘fully focused on dealing with extremism’.
She reiterated her condemnation of Mr Trump’s decision to retweet three anti-Muslim videos from the account of Britain First’s deputy leader Jayda Fransen.
‘I am very clear that retweeting Britain First was the wrong thing to do.’ she said.
Kim Darroch, British ambassador to the USA, said that he had ‘raised concerns’ with the White House following the controversy.
British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right, which seek to divide communities & erode decency, tolerance & respect. British Muslims are peaceful and law abiding citizens. And I raised these concerns with the White House yesterday.
— Kim Darroch (@KimDarroch) November 30, 2017
However Mrs May stopped short of cancelling Mr Trump’s planned state visit to the UK, saying: ‘An invitation for a state visit has been extended and been offered. We have yet to set a date.’
MPs today urged the Government to withdraw the invitation, and to try and persuade the President to quit Twitter.
Conservative MP Peter Bone told the House of Commons that the “world would be a better place” if the Prime Minister could ensure Trump removed himself from the social media platform.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd appeared to back the suggestion when she replied: “It’s interesting to note (Mr Bone’s) advice regarding Twitter accounts – I’m sure many of us might share his view.”
Mr Bone had told Ms Rudd: “One of the advantages of having such a special relationship with the United States is when a friend tells you you’ve done something dreadfully wrong, you tend to listen.
“And wouldn’t the world be a better place if the Prime Minister could persuade the President of the United States to delete his Twitter account?”
The exchanges came after Speaker John Bercow granted an urgent question from Labour MP Stephen Doughty on far-right group Britain First and online hate speech.
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Mr Doughty led the calls in the Commons to cancel Mr Trump’s state visit, describing it as a premature offer by Mrs May.
He added: “This is the President of the United States sharing, with millions, inflammatory and divisive content, deliberately posted to sow hatred and division by – as the Home Secretary says – a convicted criminal who is facing further charges, who represents a vile fascist organisation seeking to spread hatred and violence in person and online.
“By sharing it, he is either a racist, incompetent or unthinking – or all three.”
.@Theresa_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2017
London Mayor Sadiq Khan also backed cancelling the visit, saying Mrs May should demand an apology on behalf of the British people from the President.
Mr Khan said: ‘President Trump yesterday used twitter to promote a vile, extremist group that exists solely to sow division and hatred in our country.
‘Many Brits who love America and Americans will see this as a betrayal of the special relationship between our two countries. 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.’
‘As the Mayor of this great diverse city, I have previously called on Theresa May to cancel her ill-judged offer of a state visit to President Trump. After this latest incident, it is increasingly clear that any official visit at all from President Trump to Britain would not be welcomed. ‘
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable branded Mr Trump an “evil racist” who should not be given the honour of a state visit.
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said Mr Trump’s tweets were designed to “humiliate and belittle” the Prime Minister and had put the Queen in a “very difficult and invidious position” as the host for the planned state visit.
She added: “If he comes next year, a year which is supposed to be a really happy year for the royal family, what on earth are people supposed to make of it?”
But responding to the requests, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said only: “The invitation for the visit has been extended and accepted but the dates and precise arrangements have yet to be agreed.”
Ms Rudd repeated Downing Street’s statement that Mr Trump was “wrong” to spread the messages of far-right group Britain First on Twitter.
But the Home Secretary urged critics of the president to remember the importance of the trans-Atlantic alliance to Britain when voicing their concerns.
Ms Rudd denounced Britain First as “an extremist organisation which seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which spread lies and stoke tensions”.
She added: “President Donald Trump was wrong to retweet videos posted by the far-right group Britain First.”
Trump caused outrage on Wednesday by retweeting three posts by Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen to his 43.6 million followers, including footage from the Netherlands purporting to show a Muslim migrant attacking a man on crutches.
He also tweeted the Prime Minister personally after Number 10 said Trump was “wrong” for retweeting Fransen.
The President wrote: “@Theresa_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!”