- Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Donald Trump’s retweets were “wrong.”
- Responding to a suggestion that the US President should delete his account, Rudd said: “Many of us will share his view.”
- Labour’s Diane Abbott described the incident as “offensive to all decent British people.”
LONDON – The UK’s Home Secretary has called on Donald Trump to delete his Twitter account after saying the US President was “wrong” to retweet Islamaphobic videos from a British far-right group.
On Wednesday Trump retweeted inflammatory hate videos posted by a leader of Britain First, a British far-right group that peddles anti-Muslim conspiracy theories, before attacking Theresa May after she criticised him.
“.@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!” Trump tweeted.
.@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
When asked by Conservative MP Peter Bone whether Theresa May should try to “persuade the president to delete his Twitter account” the Home Secretary Amber Rudd responded: “Many of us will share his view.”
Rudd was answering an urgent question about the incident in the House of Commons and told MPs that “President Trump was wrong to retweet videos from the far-right group Britain First.”
Here’s the exchange in full:
Peter Bone: One of the advantages of having 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 to delete his Twitter account.
Amber Rudd: It is true, I think we all listen more carefully to criticism from our friends… I hope the prime minister’s comments will have some impact on the president and it’s interesting to note his advice regarding Twitter accounts, and I’m sure many of us might share his view.
Rudd’s comments came as Downing Street responded to Trump’s attack, saying the prime minister was working hard to fight Islamic extremism.
The prime minister’s spokesperson told a briefing attended by Business Insider: “The prime minister is clear that where Islamist extremism exists it should be tackled head-on. We are working hard to do that both at home and abroad with our US partners… The prime minister is fully focused on dealing with extremism.”
They added that the “the overwhelming majority of Muslims in this country are law-abiding people who abhor extremism in all its forms.”
However, they ruled out cancelling Trump’s visit, saying: “The prime minister is very clear that it was wrong to tweet these videos but as we also said, the United States is one of our longest, closest, most special allies. The offer of a state visit has been extended and accepted and we will set out more details in due course.
Asked whether the prime minister would be replying to Trump’s tweet on Twitter, May’s spokesman replied “I don’t believe so no.”
Trump’s views “offensive to all decent British people”
MPs from all sides of the House of Commons rounded on Trump. Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott told MPs: “We believe the United States is our most important ally,” but said the retweets were “not just offensive to British people of Muslim heritage, not just to people of black and minority ethnic heritage, it is offensive to all decent British people and it is also an attack on the values of this country.
“We call on the government to make clear that in no way and at no time does it give any support whatsoever to the distasteful views of the 45th president on race, on migration, on Muslim communities internationally, because to do anything else would be an affront to voters in this country whichever side of the house they support.”
Rudd thanked her for her “powerful” words and said the government “will continue to speak freely and frankly when it takes place,” indicating that it will continue to criticise Trump over such issues.
The home secretary described Britain First as “an extremist organisation which seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which spread lies and stoke tensions.”
She also opened the door to the organisation being officially proscribed, saying they would keep Britain’s First’s position “under review”.
When asked about whether Britain First would be proscribed as a far-right group, Rudd said: “We will always keep under review what other organisations need to be proscribed.”
A spokesperson for May told BI: “Decisions on proscription follow a particular parliamentary procedure. We don’t discuss this in advance.”
Conservative MP Tim Loughton suggested that Twitter should have “no hesitation” over taking down Trump’s Twitter account if he “peddles hate crime.”
Speaker John Bercow said he allowed the debate to happen in order to show “support for the victims of racism and bigotry.”