Theresa May says 'no equivalence' between far-right and anti-fascists after Donald Trump storm

Posted On: 
16th August 2017

Theresa May has distanced herself from Donald Trump after the US president drew equivalence between white supremacists and anti-fascist protesters. 

Donald Trump and Theresa May held hands at the White House earlier this year
Credit: 
PA Images

Mr Trump said yesterday there was “blame on both sides” for the violence at the weekend in Charlottesville, where a so-called “alt-right” rally clashed with counter-demonstrators.

One woman died and 20 more were injured when a car rammed into a crowd of anti-fascists.

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While stopping short of calling out the US president by name, the Prime Minister said there were no parallels between the two sides – and said all leaders should speak out against the far-right.

“I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them,” Mrs May said on her first day back from her summer holiday.

“I think it's important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far-right views wherever we hear them.”

She added: “As I made clear at the weekend following the horrendous scenes that we saw in Charlottesville, I absolutely abhor the racism, the hatred and the violence that we have seen portrayed by these groups.

“The United Kingdom has taken action to ban far-right groups here, we have proscribed certain far-right groups here in the United Kingdom.

“And there is no equivalence.”

Mrs May has been seeking to build ties with the Trump administration, and was the first world leader to travel to the White House after his inauguration when she invited him on a state visit to the UK.

But the president’s remarks yesterday about the weekend’s violence drew derision from members of Mrs May’s Cabinet – as well as top Republicans in the US.

When asked whether the “alt-right” was responsible, Mr Trump said there was “blame on both sides” and added: “What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right. Do they have any semblance of guilt?...

“What about the fact they came charging – that they came charging, with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”

Asked whether the counter-protest was at “the same level” as the neo-Nazis on the other side, Mr Trump defended the march on Friday evening, which involved white supremacists – some making Hitler salutes and chanting anti-Semitic slogans – processioning through the university campus with torches in their hands.

“You have some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides… You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name…

“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I'll say it right now. You had a group, you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.”

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson are among the senior Conservatives to hit out at the president’s stance. 


STATE VISIT INVITATION

Meanwhile, opposition politicians have called on Mrs May to withdraw Mr Trump’s state visit invitation on the back of his equivocation.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said: “Donald Trump has shown he is unable to detach himself from the extreme-right and racial supremacists.

“The fact he remains highly dependent on White House advisors from the extreme-right shows he is firmly anchored in this detestable worldview.

“It would be completely wrong to have this man visit the UK on a state visit.”

Labour frontbencher Nia Griffith also called for invitation to be rescinded.