It’s not uncommon to see members of the UK Parliament from the opposite sides of the political spectrum agree on matters of national unity or security — after a terrorist attack or a huge natural disaster, for example.
But Thursday’s display for the “urgent question” at the House of Commons, after the U.S. president retweeted three videos from extreme far-right, anti-Muslim group Britain First, is in many ways unprecedented.
While Home Secretary Amber Rudd kept an institutional profile, reiterating the government’s line that Donald Trump was “wrong” to retweet Britain First and confirming his state visit has been postponed until further notice, other MPs went much further, venting their anger and condemnation at Trump’s words.
Here’s Conservative MP Peter Bone, calling for Prime Minister Theresa May to convince the U.S. president to delete his account, in an unusually blunt way:
UK lawmaker: “Wouldn’t the world be a better place if the Prime Minister could persuade the President of the United States to delete his Twitter account?”
Home Secretary: “To note my honorable friend’s advice regarding Twitter accounts- I’m sure many of us might share his view.” pic.twitter.com/WUg6sPWBEb
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 30, 2017
“One of the advantages of having such a special relationship with the United States is when a friend tells you you’ve done something dreadfully wrong, you tend to listen,” said Bone. “And wouldn’t the world be a better place if the prime minister could persuade the president of the United States to delete his Twitter account?”
Rudd seemed to accept Bone’s direct advice, saying, “I’m sure many of us might share his view.”
Stephen Doughty, a Labour MP, is one of the many officials who said May should cancel Trump’s state visit, noting that Trump shared “inflammatory and divisive content” on Twitter by Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen, who he calls “a convicted criminal who is facing further charges, who represents a vile fascist organisation seeking to spread hatred and violence in person and online.”
He added, “By sharing it, he is either a racist, incompetent, or unthinking—or all three.”
Doughty’s colleague Yvette Cooper said Trump will “keep spreading extremism” while Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable called Trump an “evil racist” and also called for his invitation to be withdrawn.
The same appeal came from London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who said any official visit from Trump to Britain “would not be welcomed.”
President Trump has used Twitter to promote a vile, extremist group that exists solely to sow division and hatred in our country. It’s increasingly clear that any official visit from President Trump to Britain would not be welcomed. pic.twitter.com/oZ1Kt0JCfY
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) November 30, 2017
One MP, Chris Bryant, a former Labour foreign office minister, even said that Trump should be arrested should he set foot in the UK:
Dennis Skinner, a famously outspoken left-wing parliamentarian, called Trump a “fascist president” and also urged for the state visit to be cancelled.
In general, it was startling to see so many Conservative MPs criticising Trump.
Here’s secretary of state for communities and local government Sajid Javid:
So POTUS has endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me. He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) November 29, 2017
George Freeman MP:
Well said Saj. This is a sad & low moment for the West, & AngloAmerican relations, which betrays a deep ignorance of the very real challenges of tackling the insidious rise of extremism and prejudice that threatens us all. https://t.co/0Yc3q1ShGB
— George Freeman MP (@Freeman_George) November 30, 2017
Caroline Nokes MP:
Carrie Symonds, director of communications for the Conservative Party:
Hugo Swire MP:
Think when Trump comes over, if he does come over, he should get to meet some of the locals!
— Hugo Swire (@HugoSwire) November 30, 2017