It actually takes some serious provocation to get the British government to call out the president of the United States. But Donald Trump brought the wrath of No. 10 Downing Street upon himself Wednesday by retweeting anti-Muslim videos posted by a leading figure in one of the most notorious far-right groups in the world.
After Trump shared posts from Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the racist Britain First organization (who features an image of Trump at the top of her Twitter feed), the office of British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the president’s embrace of a political movement that is so aggressive in its rabidly anti-Islamic advocacy that Fransen has been charged with hate speech.
The statement from No. 10 was blunt:
Britain First seeks to divide communities by their use of hateful narratives that peddle lies and stoke tensions. They cause anxiety to law-abiding people.
British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right which is the antithesis of the values this country represents, decency, tolerance and respect. It is wrong for the president to have done this.
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was even blunter, describing Trump’s retweets as “abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our society.” London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared that “Britain First is a vile, hate-fueled organisation whose views should be condemned, not amplified.”
Those were powerful statements of condemnation for a president who, in his crude combination of bigotry and ignorance of recent history, has created another international incident.
But the most powerful condemnation of all came from Brendan Cox, who tweeted: “Trump has legitimised the far right in his own country, now he’s trying to do it in ours. Spreading hatred has consequences & the President should be ashamed of himself.”