Theresa May condemns Donald Trump's anti-Muslim tweets as 'wrong' – but won't say she'll tell him to stop

Prime Minister says the President's trip will not be axed - 'An invitation for a state visit has been extended and been accepted. We have yet to set a date'

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Thursday 30 November 2017 14:34
Comments
Theresa May refuses to tell Trump to stop tweeting

Theresa May has ducked a challenge to say she will confront Donald Trump over his anti-Muslim tweets - and confirmed his state visit is still on.

Speaking in Jordan, the Prime Minister repeated her criticism of the US President's actions, saying: “I am very clear that retweeting Britain First was the wrong thing to do.”

But Ms May refused to bow to growing pressure to axe the state visit, telling reporters: “An invitation for a state visit has been extended and been accepted. We have yet to set a date.”

And she declined to give a straight answer when asked if she would personally ask Mr Trump to “stop” tweets similar to his apparent endorsement of the far-right group Britain First.

Instead, she made clear her view that Britain First is a “hateful organisation that seeks to spread division and mistrust within our communities”.

Ms May said: “The fact that we work together doesn’t mean we are afraid to say when we think the United States is getting it wrong and be very clear with them.”

However, she did not go any further than the criticism, made through her spokesman a day earlier, that the tweets were “wrong” – not setting out any further action she will take.

And, asked if Mr Trump telling her to stay out of the affair was “acceptable behaviour from a supposed ally”, she made clear the so-called “special relationship” would continue.

“This is a long-term special relationship that we have and its an enduring relationship that is there because it is in both out nation interests for that relationship to be there.

“As Prime Minister, I’m clear that that relationship should continue.”

Ms May is under growing pressure – including from Conservative MPs - to toughen her stance, as she prepares to complete a three-day visit to the Middle East.

Sajid Javid, a Cabinet minister of Asian descent, said Mr Trump’s retweets were an endorsement of a “vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me” and vowed to keep speaking out.

Overnight, the US President took the extraordinary step of publicly telling Ms May – the leader of a foreign ally - to keep quiet.

He tweeted: “Theresa @theresamay, 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!”

At the press conference, the Prime Minister was also asked if she would sack a minister who tweeted what Trump did.

“I have absolute confidence that my Cabinet Ministers would not be retweeting material from Britain First,” she replied.

And, asked whether she regarded the US president as a “supporter and enabler of far-right groups”, Ms May said only: “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.”

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