Prime Minister condemns ‘disgraceful scenes’ as protesters storm US Capitol

Tom Pilgrim, PA
·4-min read

The Prime Minister has condemned “disgraceful scenes” in the United States as supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in Washington DC.

Amid violent clashes with police, protesters breached barricades and were able to enter the building on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, disrupting politicians’ formal approval of Joe Biden’s election win.

According to reports, a woman who was shot inside the US Capitol during the protests died.

Boris Johnson tweeted: “Disgraceful scenes in U.S. Congress. The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.”

His comments came after British politicians from all parties described the scenes in Washington as “profoundly shocking” and “utterly horrifying”.

Mr Trump had previously urged his supporters to travel to Washington to protest against Congress’ approval of Mr Biden’s victory in the November presidential election.

Both chambers of Congress were forced into an abrupt recess by the protest as they were debating the Electoral College vote that gave Mr Biden the presidency.

Police told politicians to put on gas masks after tear gas was dispersed in the Capitol Rotunda amid skirmishes.

Senators were evacuated, with other politicians tweeting that they were taking shelter in their offices.

Law enforcement officials later said an explosive device found near the building was “no longer a threat”.

Reacting on Twitter, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer wrote: “Horrendous scenes from the US.

“These are not ‘protesters’ – this a direct attack on democracy and legislators carrying out the will of the American people.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “The US rightly takes great pride in its democracy, and there can be no justification for these violent attempts to frustrate the lawful and proper transition of power.”

Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Robert Buckland also condemned the “terrible scenes” in Washington, tweeting: “To our great friends in the US, we have always admired your peaceful transfers of power and the graceful acceptance by candidates of both electoral victory and defeat. Those who seek to undermine this must never prevail.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that the scenes from the Capitol were “utterly horrifying”.

She added: “Solidarity with those in (the United States) on the side of democracy and the peaceful and constitutional transfer of power. Shame on those who have incited this attack on democracy.”

Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade Emily Thornberry described the scenes from Washington as “profoundly shocking”.

Former Cabinet minister Jeremy Hunt said Mr Trump “shames American democracy tonight”.

He tweeted: “America is the world’s biggest, most important democracy, a shining light on the hill for freedom.

“Pres Trump told a crowd to march on Capitol Hill & turned on his VP for upholding the law. He shames American democracy tonight & causes its friends anguish but he is not America”.

Mr Trump took to Twitter to ask his supporters to “remain peaceful”.

He later tweeted a video asking protesters to “go home”, but claimed that the presidential election was “fraudulent” and that he feels their “pain”.

Mr Biden called the protests “an assault on the most sacred of American undertakings: the doing of the people’s business”.

After nearly four hours of occupation by protestors, officials later declared the Capitol complex as “secure”.

Washington DC police chief Robert Contee, calling the violence “a riot”, said at least five weapons were recovered and at least 13 people arrested over the protests.

A 6pm curfew was also declared.

Lisa Nandy, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, said: “Terrible scenes from the USA.

“This is the legacy of a politics of hate that pits people against each other and threatens the foundations of democracy.

“We must stand firm with legislators under attack and the American people who have the right to choose their own destiny.”

Layla Moran, foreign affairs spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrats, added: “The scenes coming out of Washington tonight are an attack on democracy…. An attack on democracy anywhere is an attack on democracy everywhere.”