LONDON – Prime Minister Theresa May has today avoided criticising US President Donald Trump for his response to violent white-nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia at the weekend.
President Trump said on Tuesday that “there is blame on both sides” after a woman was killed and 19 other injured when a car was driven deliberately into people protesting against a far-right demonstration in Charlottesville.
Speaking on Wednesday, May said it is “important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far right views” but failed to specifically condemn President Trump’s remarks.
The prime minister 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,” but refused to condemn Trump’s actions.
On Tuesday the US President defended his original comments on the protests, saying that it was a “fine statement.”
Trump also defended some protesters in Charlottesville, saying: “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists.”
May has been criticised for not condemning Trump’s remarks, with her spokesperson saying on Monday: “What the president says is a matter for him but what we are very clear that from very early on after this tragedy is that we condemn racism, hatred and violence.”
Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley accused May of being a coward for not standing up to the US president.
He said: “Theresa May’s failure to condemn Donald Trump’s abhorrent response to the violence in Charlottesville is not only embarrassing but dangerous. We cannot allow fascism to go unchecked.
“Now is not the time for hand-holding. Theresa May must stop being cowardly and show zero tolerance for bigotry. Her silence makes her complicit.”
There have also been calls for Trump’s state visit to be cancelled because of his response to the protests, with Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable calling it “completely wrong.”
Cable said: “The fact he remains highly dependent on White House advisors from the extreme-right shows he is firmly anchored in this detestable worldview. It would be completely wrong to have this man visit the UK on a State Visit.”
“The government should be following the far more prudent example to relations with the US President set by Angela Merkel in Germany.”
Other Conservatives have called out Trump over his comments, with Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson tweeting:
The President of the United States has just turned his face to the world to defend Nazis, fascists and racists. For shame.
— Ruth Davidson (@RuthDavidsonMSP) August 15, 2017
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Monday that Trump’s initial response was “not enough” and “surely every president of every country in the world… should be able to condemn that.”