UK minister condemns Trump for skipping military cemetery visit because of rain

British defence official says rain ‘did not prevent our brave heroes from doing their job’

Adam Forrest
Sunday 11 November 2018 01:10 GMT
Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron seek to diffuse tensions before WWI anniversary

UK defence minister Tobias Ellwood has chastised US President Donald Trump for missing a military memorial event due to the rain.

The move follows widespread criticism of Mr Trump after he cancelled a visit to a US cemetery in Belleau, northern France, where American soldiers killed in the First World War are buried.

The White House said the no-show was due to “scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather,” which grounded the presidential helicopter due to fly him to the site about a two-hour drive east of Paris.

“As a duel national I’m sorry to read this,” tweeted Mr Ellwood, who has responsibility for Britain’s veterans’ affairs.

The former soldier added: “Rain was a regular feature on the Western Front. Thankfully it did not prevent our brave heroes from doing their job.”

Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Soames, the grandson of wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill, was also scathing about Mr Trump.

He tweeted: “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @DonaldTrump couldn't even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen.”

Mr Trump is in France to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, and is expected to join world leaders for an Armistice Day commemorative event at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris on Sunday.

Donald Trump meets French president Emmanuel Macron in Paris
Donald Trump meets French president Emmanuel Macron in Paris (Rex)

The US leader, who did meet French president Emmanuel Macron on Saturday, sent a delegation to Aisne-Marne cemetery that included his chief of staff John Kelly.

David Frum, the former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, said he thought it was “incredible” that the US president would travel all the way to France and not pay his respects to US soldiers.

Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser under President Barack Obama, said the White House’s excuse about “logistical difficulties” caused by the rain did not make sense.

“I helped plan all of President Obama’s trips for 8 years,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is always a rain option. Always.”

Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Theresa May paid respects to the first and last British soldier killed in the First World War.

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