Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt sides with Trump over racist tweet attacking Sadiq Khan

Minister says he shares ‘sentiment’ of US president’s criticism of London mayor

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Monday 17 June 2019 13:44 BST
Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt sides with Trump over racist tweet attacking Sadiq Khan

Jeremy Hunt has sided with Donald Trump over his attacks on Sadiq Khan, despite the US president endorsing the racist term “Londonistan”.

The foreign secretary refused to criticise Mr Trump for quoting a post by right-wing commentator Katie Hopkins, which had called the capital “Khan’s Londonistan”.

“President Trump has his own style and I wouldn’t use those words myself,” the Tory leadership contender told a Westminster hustings.

“But the sentiment is enormous disappointment that we have a mayor of London who has completely failed to tackle knife crime and spent more time on politics than the actual business of making Londoners safer.

“And in that, I 150 per cent agree with the president.”

The comments were immediately branded “disgusting” by the Muslim Council of Britain, which highlighted Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

“This is disgusting & it should be disqualifying for any potential PM to agree with the ‘sentiment’ of an attack which includes the quoting of the Islamophobia of the vile Katie Hopkins,” tweeted its spokesperson, Miqdaad Versi.

“Is Islamophobia so endemic in the party that the foreign secretary tolerates it so easily?”

In contrast, two of Mr Hunt’s leadership rivals did criticise the US president’s tweeting, which followed three killings in London over the weekend.

Sajid Javid, the home secretary, told Mr Trump to “stick to domestic politics”, describing his behaviour as “unbecoming of the leader of such a great state”.

And Dominic Raab also hit out, saying: “I disagree with lots of things Sadiq Khan says but I’m proud to have a Muslim mayor of London and a Muslim home secretary. I’ve lived in London and I’m proud that it’s a melting point.”

Michael Gove, the environment secretary, said: “It’s always a mistake to retweet anything that Katie Hopkins tweets.”

And Rory Stewart, the international development secretary, while ducking a challenge to criticise Mr Trump in the hustings, tweeted later that he “100 per cent” disagreed with the “Londonistan” description.

On Saturday, Mr Trump stepped up his feud with Mr Khan, tweeting: “LONDON needs a new mayor ASAP. Khan is a disaster – will only get worse!”

He retweeted Ms Hopkins’ original post, which called the capital “Stab-City” and “Khan’s Londonistan” alongside two screenshots of online stories detailing the violence.

Mr Khan himself said: “It’s for Donald Trump to explain his tweets, not for me, but it's remarkable that you’ve got the president of the USA amplifying the tweets of a far-right activist, amplifying a racist tweet.

“That’s one of my concerns about Donald Trump – he’s now seen as a poster boy for racists around the world, whether you’re a racist in this country, whether you’re a racist in Hungary, a racist in Italy, or a racist in France.”

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