Nicola Sturgeon: Retweets prove Trump does not deserve state visit

Donald Trump initially responded to May's criticism of his retweeting of inflammatory anti-Muslim videos from a fringe British political group by directing his message to the wrong Theresa May. Picture: AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool, File
Donald Trump initially responded to May's criticism of his retweeting of inflammatory anti-Muslim videos from a fringe British political group by directing his message to the wrong Theresa May. Picture: AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool, File
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Nicola Sturgeon has strengthened her calls for Donald Trump to be banned from entering the UK, declaring the US president’s sharing of inflammatory anti-Muslim video had proven he did not deserve a state visit.

The First Minister reiterated her firm position on Mr Trump yesterday amid a deepening transatlantic row over extremism.

The American president earlier fuelled an extraordinary flare-up between the two key allied nations by ordering Theresa May to concentrate on her eliminating Islamic State threats in her own country after the Prime Minister condemned the US leader’s actions.

Mr Trump stirred tensions on Wednesday by retweeting video posted online by the deputy leader of the far-right Britain First group.

He shared three posts by the radical group’s deputy leader Jayda Fransen to his almost 44 million followers, including footage from the Netherlands purporting to show a Muslim migrant attacking a man on crutches.

The president has formally accepted an invitation for a UK state visit, although a date is yet to be set.

Ms Sturgeon, who has repeatedly set herself at odds with Mr Trump, described the decision to retweet the extremist footage as “completely unacceptable and really quite shocking”.

She said any decision to block an official state visit would not threaten the ties between Britain and the US.

“The man who killed [former MP] Jo Cox shouted Britain First and to have the President of the United States legitimising that organisation in the way that these retweets did is completely unacceptable,” Ms Sturgeon told the BBC yesterday.

“I would hope that the president will reflect on that and in doing so understand why so many people are so deeply offended and concerned by this. I have said previously that it would not be appropriate for a state visit to go ahead at this time and the events of the last couple of days underline and strengthen that view.

“America is one of Scotland and the UK’s closest friends and allies. We have many things in common and those links will endure.

“When President Trump was first elected I said that we could not afford to compromise our own principles in the interests of diplomatic silence and this is one occasion where that is absolutely the case.”

Mrs May, who was speaking from Jordan on the final day of her visit to the Middle East, said Mr Trump had been “wrong” to retweet videos produced by the “hateful” Britain First organisation.

But she rejected the growing clamour to call off the president’s controversial state visit, insisting she remained committed to the “special relationship” between the UK and US.

“It is an enduring relationship that is there because it is in both our national interests for that relationship to be there,” she said.

Mrs May added: “The fact that we work together does not mean that we are afraid to say when we think that the United States have got it wrong and to be very clear with them.”

Mr Trump took a far less diplomatic approach. In a trademark late-night tweet, he wrote: “@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!”

His latest comments provoked an outcry in parliament with MPs demanding the president apologise to the British people.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott called his behaviour “offensive to all decent British people”. Home Secretary Amber Rudd appeared to indicate her agreement to a call from Tory MP Peter Bone for the president to delete his Twitter account, telling MPs: “I’m sure many of us might share his view.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said Mr Trump was an “evil racist” who should not be given the honour. Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said the president’s tweets were designed to “humiliate and belittle” the Prime Minister and had put the Queen in a “very difficult and invidious position” as his host for the visit.