This week started happily enough for the “special relationship” said to exist between the U.K. and the U.S., with the announcement that Prince Harry is finally engaged to the American (former) actress Meghan Markle. On Wednesday morning, however, that goodwill evaporated when Donald Trump dedicated his usual early morning on Twitter to retweeting inflammatory anti-Muslim videos from the far-right extremist group Britain First, causing an uproar in the U.K. It wasn’t long before members of the Parliament, from the Labour Party to the Conservative Party alike, got together to unanimously agree that Trump had finally gone too far.
It was a Conservative Party official, for example, who called on prime minister Theresa May to persuade Trump to delete his Twitter account, while another called for Twitter to take the account down itself. While their reasons focused on how the President’s Twitter is a source of constant hate, they were best summed up in this dig from a conservative Parliamentary lawmaker: “Just because somebody stops using Twitter, it does not mean that they cease to be a twit.”
Their collective drags of Trump—from “stupid” to “fascist” to “racist, incompetent or unthinking—or all three”—are documented on the Parliament’s official website, though they’ve also made their way into a space that probably has far more reach: Cara Delevingne‘s Instagram. On Thursday night, the model and actress shared a video captioned with four fist emojis and two Union Jacks with her 40.8 million followers, which captures the Labour official Chris Bryant threatening to press criminal charges against Trump: “Racists who stir up hatred in this country will not be allowed in this country, and if they come to this country, they’ll be arrested,” he said, echoing long-heard sentiments that Trump should not be allowed a state visit to the country. (If he does end up making one, he reportedly will be denied access to the Queen.)
Groovy electronic music soundtracks a Parliamentary member indignantly declaring that “action is needed now, not a slap on the wrist,” with the Labour shadow home secretary Diane Abbott adding that “the fact that the 45th president chose to retweet material from Britain First is not just offensive to British people of Muslim heritage. It is offensive to all decent British people.” Meanwhile, Labour official Paul Flynn echoed the sentiments he’s posted on Twitter—that should he enter the country, Trump should be arrested. “He has disgraced himself again and again, and he worries us because his impulsive finger is on the nuclear button. If he is allowed to come to this country now, he should be treated as anyone else who breaks the law, and charged with inciting racial hatred,” Flynn said.
Outside of the parliamentary meeting, and predictably enough for someone who’s already gotten into Twitter fights with the president, London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, tweeted that “many Brits who love America and Americans will see [Trump’s retweets] as a betrayal,” and calling on May to use “any influence she and her government claim to have with the President and his administration to ask him to delete these tweets and to apologise to the British people.”
While May might have rejected their calls to cancel Trump’s state visit, she did clarify that “the fact that we work together does not mean that we’re afraid to say when we think the United States has got it wrong, and be very clear with them”—which is to say she was not afraid to then go ahead and call Trump’s actions “wrong.”
Even though she didn’t go as far as many both inside and outside her government would like—and it’s worth noting here how rare it is for the British public, British celebrities, and the Labour and Conservative Parties to unite, as Brexit all too effectively illustrated—May’s statements were still too much for Trump, who, lesson definitely not learned, again took to Twitter on Thursday night. In a condescending tweet that began with @-ing the prime minister, he told her: “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!” (Never mind that many, Americans or not, would say we are in fact not doing just fine.)
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