Tory leadership candidates condemn Donald Trump over Sadiq Khan criticism
Donald Trump has been condemned by Sajid Javid, Dominic Raab and Michael Gove after he sparked a fresh Twitter spat with London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
The Tory leadership hopefuls hit back at President Trump after he endorsed a tweet from right-wing commentator Katie Hopkins in which she attacked Mr Khan over violence in the capital.
However, rival candidate Jeremy Hunt said he “150%” agreed with the controversial commander-in-chief for criticising the mayor's record on crime.
On Saturday, President Trump shared a tweet from Ms Hopkins in which she described the capital as “Londonistan” following the violent deaths of three young men.
He added: “London needs a new mayor ASAP. Khan is a disaster – will only get worse!”
In a further tweet the president described Mr Khan as a “national disgrace” who was “destroying the city of London”.
But speaking at a Conservative leadership hustings in Westminster, Home Secretary Mr Javid accused President Trump of "unbecoming" behaviour.
He said: "I think that President Trump should stick to domestic politics.
"I think it's unbecoming of a leader of such a great state to keep trying to interfere in another country's politics."
He added: “The president is right to be concerned about serious violence but he should be concerned about serious violence in his own country, which is more than ten times higher than it is in the UK."
Mr Raab meanwhile said the US leader’s actions were not "helpful, savoury or constructive" - and said he was "proud" to have a Muslim mayor of London.
"I’m proud to come to have grown up in the suburbs of London, to have lived in London, which is a multi-identity city, I’m proud that this country is a melting pot," he added.
Mr Raab said: “I disagreed with lots of things Sadiq Khan says. But I’m proud to have a Muslim mayor of London. And I’m proud to have a Muslim Home Secretary. So I’m afraid I stand up for London and for Britain first.”
Meanwhile Mr Gove said: "I think it is always a mistake to retweet anything Katie Hopkins tweets.”
However, fellow leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt refused to condemn the comments, saying the President "has his own style and I wouldn't use those words myself".
And he added: "But the sentiment is enormous disappointment that we have a mayor of London who was completely failed to tackle knife crime and has spent more time on politics than the actual business of making London safer.
"And in that I 150% agree with the President."
Meanwhile, Number 10 refused to be drawn on the comments, with a spokesperson for Theresa May, saying : "The Mayor of London has issued his own response in relation to that. As the mayor rightly said, violent crime has no place in London or anywhere else in this country."
But the response provoked a backlash from the Muslim Council of Britain who blasted Mr Hunt and Mrs May for giving Islamophobia a "free pass".
A spokesperson for the Muslim umbrella group said: "When facing Islamophobia, many Muslims are most hurt when others stand by and do nothing. Trump's endorsement of a bigot has nothing to do with the rising knife crime that we are all concerned about and everything to do with his divisive agenda.
"For Downing Street to refuse to comment and our Foreign Secretary and potentially future Prime Minister to agree with the ‘sentiment’ of this known Islamophobe without condemning the clear bigoted intent behind it, is shocking.”
They added: "It is still further proof that Islamophobia is given a free pass at the highest echelons of the Conservative Party."
Mr Javid's criticism comes after he said it was "odd" that he had not been invited to attend a lavish state banquet with Mr Trump during his UK state visit.
But the Home Secretary, who has Pakistani Muslim heritage, denied his background was behind the banquet snub which saw more junior government ministers attend.
Speaking over the weekend, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also slammed Mr Trump for engaging with Ms Hopkins, accusing him of "spreading hate".
He tweeted: "Sadiq Khan is rightly supporting the police to do their job while Katie Hopkins spreads hateful and divisive rhetoric.
"They seek to divide at a time we need to come together."
A spokesperson for Mr Khan meanwhile said: "Sadiq is focusing on supporting London’s communities and over-stretched emergency services.
"He has been in regular touch with senior Met police officers last night and throughout the day.
"His thought are with the victim’s families. He is not going to waste his time responding to this sort of tweet."