Theresa May Trumps the Donald
Once, this Anglo-American couple held hands, but since yesterday, things have become a bit complicated. Of course, we are not talking about the hottest new couple on the block, Prince Harry and Meghan, but about UK PM Theresa May and US president Donald Trump.
There goes that so-called “special relationship” between the UK and the US. When Trump shared on his Twitter account three anti-Muslim videos, initially shared by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of far-right group Britain First—founded by British National Party (BNP) members, leading political figures were quick to criticise his tweets. The British PM, Theresa May, condemned the president’s controversial action on Wednesday. Her spokesperson criticised his decision as “wrong,” and said the inflammatory videos used by this group sought “to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions."
Fransen has been found guilty of religiously aggravated harassment in November 2016 when she was seen abusing a Muslim woman wearing a hijab and she was fined almost £2,000. As of lately, she has been charged with “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” over speeches at a rally in Belfast. She is facing a court action in Northern Ireland and was arrested by Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers on Saturday. She was bailed and will be appearing at Belfast’s Magistrate Court on 14 December.
After May clarified her position and accused his actions, Trump hit at May, but the first time he did so, he tagged the wrong Theresa May on Twitter. When he finally got the correct Twitter account, and not the one with a mere six followers, he tweeted: "@Theresa_May, 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!"
The three videos
The first video he retweeted was allegedly showing a “Muslim migrant” attacking a Dutch man on crutches. But a spokesperson from the Dutch Public Prosecution Service told the BBC that the so-called “Muslim migrant,” was not a migrant but Dutch, “born and raised in the Netherlands.” As the Netherlands Embassy tweeted, “@realDonaldTrump Facts do matter. The perpetrator of the violent act in this video was born and raised in the Netherlands. He received and completed his sentence under Dutch law.”
The second video shows a man destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary. In the video the man says "No-one but Allah will be worshipped in the land of the Levant," which means the man is somewhere in Syria.
The third video is of the riots in Egypt in 2013 and shows a man being thrown from the rooftop of a building in Alexandria.
While everyone has taken a critical stance against Trump, from world leaders to US Democrats and Republicans, the White House defended the president and the spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that Theresa May and other leaders should be aware of these threats and that “Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real." Completely missing the point.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said that Trump "endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me", and added that "He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing."
Brendan Cox, whose wife, Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a right-wing extremist who shouted “Britain First,” said to Trump through Twitter: “You have a mass shooting every single day in your country, your murder rate is many times that of the UK, your healthcare system is a disgrace, you can’t pass anything through a congress that you control. I would focus on that.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “It beggars belief that the president of our closest ally doesn't see that his support of this extremist group actively undermines the values of tolerance and diversity that makes Britain so great. After this latest incident, it is increasingly clear that any official visit at all from President Trump to Britain would not be welcomed."
MPs in the UK have urged the government to cancel Trump’s invitation to visit the UK during debates at the House of Commons today. The home secretary, Amber Rudd, criticised Trump’s decision to share Britain First’s propaganda, but said that ministers should have in mind the “bigger picture” of the UK’s close relationship with the US.
But, there were accusations against Trump by the most unusual figures. After our shocking discovery that Jacob Rees-Mogg isn’t that bad after all, now former Ukip leader has decided to surprise us. Following the heroic position of uber-Conservative Jacob Rees-Mogg this week, who argued about the right of MPs to vote on the Brexit bill, Nigel Farage, known extremist and Brexiteer, and most importantly an idoliser of Trump, has spoken with wisdom. He said: “I do think these videos are very bad taste and he showed poor judgment. Of that I have no doubt at all.” He also criticised the White House’s defence: “I think that was a mistake. There are times when perhaps it’s better to put your hands up and say: ‘I got this wrong’ and frankly try to move on.” Life is full of surprises, after all.
There weren’t any surprises from Boris Johnson though. His “rambunctious,” defence of Trump, was in stark contrast to other MPs who were angry with Trump and argued he should not be welcomed in the UK. BoJo was shocking when he praised Trump’s communication “skills”: “I think you’ve got to realise that the American president is just one of the huge, great global brands, and he is penetrating corners of the global consciousness that I think few other presidents have ever done. So his method of tweeting earlier in the morning, no matter how rambunctious those tweets may be, they are communicating with people. And, yes, a lot of people don’t like it. But a lot of people relate to it. And in an age when people have been turned off politics, it is more direct and it’s more communicative than a lot of previous presidents have managed.”
May raised the issue in a speech today in the Middle East, where she said that Britain First is a “hateful organisation” and that retweeting it “is wrong.” However, she said she wants the UK-US relationship to continue and Trump’s invitation to visit has been accepted, adding: “We have yet to set a date.” Perhaps, that might be in the long future, since, at the moment, any visit from the Donald will trigger protests in the UK. The Guardian jokingly reported that if anyone was waiting from May a Love Actually moment, they would have been disappointed.