Top Tories hit out at Donald Trump after he blames Armistice event no-show on the rain

Posted On: 
11th November 2018

Donald Trump has been criticised by senior Tory MPs, including a defence minister, for cancelling a visit to a cemetery for American soldiers killed in the First World War because it was raining.

Donald Trump met French president Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Saturday
Credit: 
PA Images

The US president was due to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in northern France on Saturday, but later pulled out as a result of “scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather”.

White House officials said that light, steady rain and a low cloud ceiling prevented his helicopter from traveling to the site, prompting Chief of Staff John Kelly to step in on his behalf.

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Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood criticised President Trump, saying senior politicians should pay tribute to the fallen “correctly”, while former frontbencher Nicholas Soames branded the president “pathetic” and "inadequate".

Mr Ellwood, a former British Army captain, told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge: “I’m sorry to see that decision was made for the United States.

"This was a pivotal event in stepping forward on the international stage, the first time that the standard was flown in global defence of liberty, it was if you like, the United States joining Britain in wanting to play an influential role, a force for good on the global stage.

“And we’ve been working together ever since from that. And the debt of gratitude that we owe a whole generation - in Britain six million people were mobilised for war - it’s so important that we reflect correctly on what sacrifice was made and that needs to be done at every level, including by the commander-in-chief of the United States forces.”

His comments come after Mr Soames, the grandson of Second World War leader Winston Churchill, sparked a global response when he tweeted that the President had shown himself as unfit to lead his country.

Mr Trump is among 70 world leaders expected to gather at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Sunday to mark the commemoration of the centenary of the end of the war.

Foreign Affairs Committee chair and former Territorial Army officer Tom Tugendhat also swiped at the President, telling the same programme: “I don’t remember operations being cancelled when it rained, I don’t remember them being cancelled for the cold, I don’t remember us refusing to soldier because the weather was inclement.

“I seem to remember in Iraq and Afghanistan, when sometimes it was minus 15 and sometimes it was 50 degrees in shade, we soldiered on."

Labour also took aim at the US commander-in-chief's decision to stay away from the service.

Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith said: “I was absolutely horrified quite frankly, when you think of the sacrifice people made, and I think people up and down the country and across Europe, whatever their political views, do think it’s very, very important that we commemorate what happened and I think people were really taken aback by that.

The opposition frontbencher added: "I think he seriously misjudged the mood across Europe."