Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt condemn Donald Trump 'go home' tweets - but won’t call him 'racist'
Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have condemned Donald Trump after he told ethnic minority congresswomen to go back to their own countries.
Mr Johnson branded the comments "totally unacceptable", while Mr Hunt said the outburst was "totally offensive" - although both stopped short of accepting that they were "racist".
Their criticisms came as the pair faced off in a final head-to-head debate, before the winner of the Tory leadership contest is unveiled on 23 July.
Downing Street had earlier called the President’s tirade at the prominent politicians “completely unacceptable” - piling pressure on Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt to match her intervention.
The row came after Mr Trump tweeted: "Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough."
The attack was widely interpreted as being directed at the Democratic Party's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley – three of whom were born in the United States - in light of their respective criticisms of his immigration policies.
When asked in a debate held by The Sun and talkRADIO whether he agreed with the Mrs May, Mr Johnson said: “I think that relations between the UK and US are incredibly important but if you’re a leader of a multiracial, multicultural society you simply cannot use that kind of language about sending people back to where they came from.
"That went out decades and decades ago and thank heavens for that, so it’s totally unacceptable, I agree with the Prime Minister."
Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt said: "I have three half-Chinese children – British citizens, born on the NHS - and if anyone ever said to them 'go back to China', I would be utterly appalled.
"And I would say something else, it is totally un-British to do that and so I hope that would never happen in this country.”
Both refused to be drawn on whether the comments were "racist", with Mr Hunt adding that as Foreign Secretary it would be unhelpful for him to agree, even though he understood why some voters would wish for him to do so.
Mr Johnson's marked change of tone comes a week after he was scolded for failing to publicly back up the UK's ambassador to Washington in the face of attacks from the President.
Sir Kim Darroch subsequently resigned from his post - amid a row over the release of top secret cables in which he criticised Mr Trump - while Mr Johnson accepted that his stance had played a part in his decision.
President Trump earlier doubled down on his outburst at the congresswomen when asked by reporters at the White House if he thought his tweets were "racist".
“Not at all,” he responded, adding: “If somebody has a problem with our country, if someone doesn’t want to be in our country, they should leave.”
Asked if it concerned him that many thought his tweets were racist, he said: “It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me.”
In response to the President’s initial comments, Ms Ocasio-Cortez told Sky News that he “relies on racism, division and anti-immigrant sentiment to consolidate power because he does not have a positive vision for the future of America”.