Relations with the US not ‘most important’ – UK Labour leader
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has questioned the value of Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with the US, suggesting Washington is not actually the UK’s ‘most important ally,’ while criticizing Trump’s ‘endless offensive remarks.’
Corbyn cast doubt on the existence of a close bond between the two states, vaunted since wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill first used the phrase “a special relationship” back in 1946. Asked Sunday whether the relationship with the US was Britain’s most important, Corbyn said: “No. I think there are many important relationships.”
The others include China, India, the EU and international organizations, such as the UN, Corbyn told ITV’s Peston on Sunday show.
“I’m not sure that anyone has succeeded in defining the special relationship,” Corbyn went on, saying he was once told by a former prime minister “if they specified what the special relationship was, it wouldn’t be a special relationship.” Still, he admitted Washington is “obviously culturally and economically significant and important.”
Corbyn’s remarks followed President Donald Trump’s decision to call off his planned UK trip for the opening of the new US embassy in London. The US leader tweeted the announcement, blaming his predecessor Barack Obama for making a “bad deal” on the embassy’s relocation site.
The news, however, didn’t disappoint the Labour leader, who said he was “not surprised.” Given Trump’s latest “comments about other countries, particularly in Africa,” the US leader wouldn’t have received the warmest of welcomes and “reaction against him would be huge,” Corbyn said. Apart from “his endless offensive remarks about women, about minorities and about different faiths,” Corbyn said the “biggest disappointment of Donald Trump” was “his failure to support international institutions like the United Nations and like UNESCO.”
Still, the US president has got to come to the UK at “some point,” Corbyn noted.
The cancelled presidential visit is just the latest in a series of diplomatic hiccoughs that indicate a cooling in the supposed special relationship between the US and UK.
Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May engaged in a spat towards the end of last year after Trump retweeted videos posted by the deputy leader of far-right group Britain First.
May condemned Trump’s actions, to which he responded: “Don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom.”
Prior to this, May scolded the US President for tweeting that the person responsible for a suspected terrorist attack on a London Tube train in September 2017 was “in the sights of Scotland Yard.” The British PM also hit out at Trump’s response to August’s Charlottesville protest, where he stopped short of singling out white supremacists for causing the violence.