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Downing Street slaps down Donald Trump and says he was 'wrong' to endorse Britain First tweets

4 min read

Donald Trump was "wrong" to retweet anti-Muslim videos posted by the far-right group Britain First, a spokesman for Theresa May has said.


In Downing Street's strongest condemnation yet of the American president, Number 10 accused the organisation of using "hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions".

President Trump sparked outrage after he re-tweeted three videos posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, to his 43.6 million followers.

One was titled 'Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!', another said 'Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!' and the other was called 'Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!'.

Ms Fransen then tweeted: "GOD BLESS YOU TRUMP! GOD BLESS AMERICA!"

Mrs May is currently visiting the Middle East, but her spokesman said: "Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions. They cause anxiety to law-abiding people.

"British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far-right, which is the antithesis of the values this country represents: decency, tolerance and respect. It is wrong for the president to have done this."

The Prime Minister has previously been critical of the president's plans to ban immigration from Muslim-majority countries, and comments he made about Sadiq Khan in the wake of terror attacks in London earlier this year.

But it is her first direct criticism of President Trump's actions - and casts further doubt on whether his planned state visit to the UK will ever go ahead.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had earlier called on the Government to condemn President Trump's latest controversy.

Tracy Brabin, who succeeded murdered Jo Cox as the Labour MP for Batley and Spen, called for the state visit to the UK to be cancelled.

She told Radio 5Live: "These retweets are incredibly troubling. He has shown such lacking leadership over the months that he has been the president of the United States, but this just beggars belief.

"Justifying this organisation that, as Brendan [Cox – husband of murdered MP Jo Cox] says, this hatred has consequences and we know more than any in Batley and Spen what those consequences are.

"And absolutely the Government must get involved in this. We are not holding this man’s hand, we are challenging him and holding him to account.

"He would not be welcome in my mind and certainly we had this discussion in Parliament and Mr Speaker was very clear that he wouldn’t be welcome in Parliament.

"I think we have to accept this is not a mistake. He is incredibly clever. The tweets he sends out are very thought through. He is actually supporting white supremacy and he has to be held to account. We cannot forgive this."

'MANNA FROM HEAVEN'

Government minister Lord Callanan said: "Britain First is an appalling organisation. We have to be very upfront about that.

"There is no excusing some of the things that they stand for and the memes that they stand for and I can only assume he’s made a mistake and that he didn’t realise who Britain First were.

"Most people in the UK don’t know who Britain First are. But I’m not excusing it. Clearly he needs to be careful what he tweets to 43 million followers. But this is manna from heaven for them.

"We are doing exactly what they want now, which is publicising them and giving coverage to their awful views and Trump has helped them in that."

A Downing Street spokesman said he had not seen the tweets and could not comment.

CONDEMNATION CALL

But in the Commons, MPs demanded Cabinet ministers Amber Rudd or Boris Johnson intervene,

Labour's Yvette Cooper said: "I understand that the woman in question has already been convicted of hate crime in this country and on that basis, given the significance and the seriousness of the president of the United States giving her such a huge platform, [is it not] appropriate for her to hear some word of condemnation from the Home Secretary or the Foreign Secretary?"

Britain First leader Paul Golding, a former BNP councillor, ​claimed last week that Ms Fransen had been arrested by Northern Irish police in Bromley, Kent.

The allegations are said to relate to a rally outside Belfast City Hall in August at which she gave a speech.

The pair are currently on bail awaiting trial for allegedly inciting religious hatred.

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