Sajid Javid launches thinly-veiled attack on Trump after his racist 'go home' comments

Ashley Cowburn

Sajid Javid has launched a thinly-veiled attack on Donald Trump after his racist "go back" remarks, as he calls on political leaders to moderate their language to tackle extremism.

In his last major speech as home secretary before the new prime minister takes office next week, Mr Javid will say we "must confront the myths" about immigration.

It comes after Mr Trump sparked a racism row when he sent tweets telling four American congresswomen to "go back" to the countries from which they came - despite three of them being born in the United States.

The fourth, Ilhan Omar, moved to the US from Somalia as a child refugee almost 30 years ago. Supporters of Mr Trump took aim at the congresswoman during a campaign rally this week, chanting: "Send her back, send her back".

In an apparent reference to the US president's remarks, Mr Javid will say: "I'm from an immigrant family, I know what it's like to be told to go back to where I came from."

He will add: "We must confront the myths about immigration that extremists use to drive divisions. We know the scale is exaggerated to stoke up fear and that they use immigration as a proxy for race."

Addressing extremism, Mr Javid will say everybody has their "part to play" in stopping the spread of poisonous narratives. "If we are to stop extremism in its tracks we must have the courage to confront it, the strength to take decisive action, and the foresight to tackle the root causes.

"Public discourse is hardening and becoming less constructive. Everybody has a part to play: broadcasters who must not give a platform to extremists; police who must swoop on the worst offenders; public figures who must moderate their language."

On Thursday, almost 150 British MPs and peers condemned Mr Trump's comments and expressed support for the Democrat congresswomen.

They said the US president's "outright racist and dangerous" comments were "abhorrent" and claimed his "fascist tendencies" had been silently accepted for too long.

In an open letter co-ordinated by Labour MP Naz Shah, they wrote: “It is shocking that in the 21st century a president of the United States would speak about opposition congresswomen of colour as non-Americans.

"What is further despicable is that this then descended into the most evil and vilest type of politicking, in which the president silently condoned aggressive chants of ‘send her back’ referring directly towards Ilhan Omar."

Both contenders to replace Theresa May as prime minister next week - Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt - have also criticised the comments, but stopped short of branding them racist.