Trump state visit to UK ‘not expected’ after Britain First Twitter spat – diplomat
The president started an almighty fall-out on Wednesday when he retweeted three Islamophobic videos posted by the deputy leader of a British far-right group. May said Trump, tweeting from his personal @realDonaldTrump account, was “wrong” to share the material and promote the group. The US leader fired back, insisting Downing Street should be focusing on domestic extremism – not what he says online.
Now diplomats say his post-Christmas visit is off the table. According to the Telegraph, one senior US diplomat said, “The idea of a visit has obviously been floated, but not December and not January. I would not expect a Trump visit in January.”
The scaled-down version of a state visit was designed to ease Trump into the UK and avoid mass protests. Trump was expected formally to open London’s new US embassy during the ‘working visit’.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd hinted the visit could be canceled by implying it was never completely organized. “We have yet to make the arrangements,” she told Parliament on Thursday.
Furious MPs – including Tory ministers Sajid Javid, Boris Johnson, Justine Greening and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – were among those who slammed POTUS for retweeting Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the far-right group Britain First. They called for the offer of a visit to be rescinded. Repeating her earlier condemnation, May called Britain First a “hateful organization” that “seeks to spread mistrust and division within our communities.”
“I think that we must all take seriously the threat that far-Right groups pose, both in terms of the terrorist threat that is posed by those groups and the necessity of dealing with extremist material which is far-right as well,” the PM said during a tour of Middle-Eastern capitals.
“I have commented in the past on issues in the United States on this matter. In the United Kingdom we take the far-right very seriously and that is why we ensure that we deal with these threats and this extremism wherever it comes and whatever its source.”
In fact, May more or less channeled Hugh Grant’s ‘Love Actually’ speech when she claimed Britain is not afraid to stand up to the US.
“The fact that we work together does not mean that we are afraid to say when we think the United States have got it wrong and be very clear with them,” she said.
And the PM pulled no punches when it came to the president’s chosen platform – mocking him for his use of Twitter as though it were his press room. May said she “rarely” looked at Twitter. And she wouldn’t find much if she did, either. In his juvenile response, Trump tweeted the wrong Theresa May to begin with – instead targeting a mum from Bognor.
“I think what he’s done is elevate the conversation to talk about a real issue and threat,” she said. “And that’s extreme violence and extreme terrorism.”