- Reuters/Thierry Charlier
- Theresa May, through a spokesman, condemned US President Donald Trump after he retweeted anti-Muslim videos posted by a leader of the far-right group Britain First.
- The spokesman for the British prime minister said, “It is wrong for the president to have done this.”
- The comments are May’s most explicit criticism of the president.
- The spokesman said he had talked to May, who is on a tour of the Middle East, about the tweets.
LONDON – Theresa May, through a spokesman, has condemned US President Donald Trump for retweeting Islamophobic videos posted by a leader of the British far-right.
The spokesman for the British prime minister said it was “wrong” for Trump to have broadcast the footage to his 43 million Twitter followers on Wednesday morning.
“Britain first seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions,” the spokesman said at a press briefing attended by Business Insider. “They cause anxiety to law-abiding people.”
He continued: “British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudice of the far right, which is the antithesis of the values that this country represents: decency, tolerance, and respect. It is wrong for the president to have done this.”
Trump retweeted three videos posted by Jayda Fransen – the deputy leader of Britain First, the UK’s best-known far-right group – with the titles “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” and “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!”
May’s spokesman said he talked to the prime minister about Trump’s tweets as she was travelling in the Middle East.
It is very rare for the British government to directly condemn a US president, and May has been criticised for her previous reluctance to get involved in controversies involving Trump.
Trump’s retweets have led to calls for May to cancel the president’s planned state visit to the UK next year. May’s spokesman said that the invitation to Trump had “been extended and accepted” and that the visit would still go ahead, though a Sky News reporter described government sources as saying it would be “downgraded.”
Another govt source on Trump visit: "We won't pull it. The status of the office of president overrides the bad behaviour on his part." But not going to happen in near term and is being downgraded from full blown state visit
— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) November 29, 2017
The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, defended Trump.
“Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real,” she said. “His goal is to promote strong border security and strong national security.”
- Paul Golding/Facebook
Fransen expressed joy at Trump’s retweeting the videos she posted.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, DONALD TRUMP, HAS RETWEETED THREE OF DEPUTY LEADER JAYDA FRANSEN'S TWITTER VIDEOS! DONALD TRUMP HIMSELF HAS RETWEETED THESE VIDEOS AND HAS AROUND 44 MILLION FOLLOWERS! GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS AMERICA! OCS @JaydaBF @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/BiQfQkTra9
— Jayda Fransen (@JaydaBF) November 29, 2017
As of 1.30 p.m. on Wednesday, “Britain First” was the second-highest trending topic on Twitter.
Fransen has been arrested in connection with her political activities several times.
Last November, she was convicted of “religiously aggravated harassment” after shouting at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab during a deliberately provocative “Christian patrol” in the town of Luton.
Fransen is awaiting trial on charges that she incited religious hatred in the town of Ramsgate, according to KentLive. She also was charged earlier this month over an inflammatory speech in Northern Ireland in August, according to the BBC.