Theresa May fails to raise Britain First retweets in call with Donald Trump

Posted On: 
19th December 2017

Theresa May did not raise her concerns about Donald Trump's endorsement of anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British group in her first conversation with him since the row broke.

Donald Trump and Theresa May at the White House in January.
Credit: 
PA Images

According to Downing Street, the subject did not come up during a trans-Atlantic phone call between the pair.

However, Number 10 said the two leaders did talk about the "different positions" they had taken over Jerusalem after President Trump recognised its claim to be the capital of Israel.

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Mrs May said last month the President had been "wrong" to retweet the three videos posted on Twitter by Britain First.

That prompted an angry response from President Trump, who tweeted directly to the Prime Minister: "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!"

Just days later, the pair were at loggerheads once again when President Trump overturned decades of American foreign policy to recognise Jerusalem's claim to be the Israeli capitall.

He said the controversial move was "in the best interests of the United States of America, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians".

But in response, Mrs May said: "We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement. We believe it is unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region. The British Embassy to Israel is based in Tel Aviv and we have no plans to move it.

"Our position on the status of Jerusalem is clear and long-standing: it should be determined in a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and Jerusalem should ultimately be the shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states."

Mrs May told MPs she planned to raise the matter with President Trump, but it took 13 days for contact to be made between them.

In a statement issued following this afternoon's call, a Downing Street spokesperson said the Prime Minister "began by offering her condolences over the loss of life in the terrible train crash in Washington state".

They added: "They discussed the different positions we took on the recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and agreed on the importance of the US bringing forward new proposals for peace and the international community supporting these efforts."

The two leaders also discussed the situation in Yemen and the progress of the Brexit negotiations - but not Britain First.

"They wished each other a very Merry Christmas and looked forward to keeping in close touch," the spokesperson added.

Responding to the news, a spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn said: "It has taken Theresa May two weeks to contact Trump over his dangerous decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, yet she seems to have failed to use the opportunity to call him out for retweeting abhorrent Islamophobic material.

"As Prime Minister, May has a responsibility to stand up against hate and for all communities in our country."