LONDON—Britain’s Parliament today witnessed the most savage attack on the leader of an allied nation in its 300-year history.
Politicians from across the ideological spectrum condemned President Trump’s promotion of a far-right British street-protest organization with unprecedented fury.
Members of Parliament described Trump’s retweet of three anti-Islamic videos as “fascist,” “stupid,” and “spreading evil.” One Conservative politician urged him to delete his Twitter account.
The speaker of the House of Commons granted an urgent question in the chamber following Trump’s Twitterstorm, which included an attack on the British prime minister, who had described his promotion of Islamophobia videos as “wrong.”
Stephen Doughty, a Labour MP, called for Trump’s invitation for a state visit to Britain to be rescinded.
“This is the president of the United States sharing, with millions, inflammatory and divisive content, deliberately posted to sow hatred and division by… a convicted criminal who is facing further charges, who represents a vile fascist organization seeking to spread hatred and violence in person and online. By sharing it, he is either a racist, incompetent, or unthinking—or all three.”
The video’s retweeted by Trump had been posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, who has a conviction of religiously aggravated harassment and will stand trial again next month.
Britain First has spent the past 24 hours celebrating Trump’s endorsement of their hard-right propaganda. Fransen posted a video addressed to the president describing “how delighted I am that, as the leader of the free world you took the time out to retweet three of my videos on Twitter today.”
The group had previously struggled to garner mainstream-media coverage of their video stunts, which include mosque “invasions” and “Christian patrols” during which uniformed thugs carrying white crosses attempt to intimidate minority citizens.
On Wednesday, Trump catapulted Fransen and the group’s leader Paul Golding, who is also a convicted criminal, into the global conversation.
As is typical of their inflammatory output, one video purporting to show a Muslim immigrant attacking a boy on crutches has been exposed as a sham. It was a fight between two Dutch-born teenagers.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders endorsed this peddling of Islamophobic “fake news.” “Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real,” she said.
Lord Hain, a Labour politician, said in the House of Lords that he assumed Trump “only tweets messages he has thought carefully about and agrees with.”
This elicited laughter in the chamber, but he continued by saying Trump was therefore endorsing a “Nazi group with a vicious record of attacks, racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism.”
“Surely there can be no question of a state visit until at least he has expressed some remorse about this,” he said.
Far from showing remorse, Trump doubled down on his flirtation with the far-right by attacking Prime Minister Theresa May in another Twitter barrage.
“Theresa @theresamay, 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!” he wrote.
A Conservative MP urged the president to delete his account.
“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 Peter 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?”
Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who was representing the government during the debate, signaled her agreement. “It’s interesting to note [the] advice regarding Twitter accounts—I’m sure many of us might share his view.”
Another Conservative MP suggested that the deletion of the account should not be left to the whim of the president.
Tim Loughton said if Twitter was “genuine in its commitment to fight hate crime online,” it should “have no hesitance in taking down the Twitter account of the First Citizen of the U.S. as it would any other citizen of the world who peddles such hate crime.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said May “should be using any influence she and her government claim to have with the president” to ask that he “delete these tweets and to apologize to the British people.”
Despite Trump’s attack on the prime minister overnight, Rudd repeated the line from Downing Street saying that the U.K. had been “very clear” that Trump was “wrong” to retweet the videos. “We will continue to speak freely and frankly when it takes place,” she said.
Diane Abbott, one of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies, said Trump had offended the entire nation.
“On the question of the online activities of the 45th president, does the home secretary accept that the fact [he] chose to retweet material from Britain First is not just offensive to British people of Muslim heritage, it’s not just offensive to British people of black and minority ethnic heritage, it is offensive to all decent British people? It is also an attack on the values of this country.”
Her Labour colleague Yvette Cooper said Britain should rethink the state-visit invitation as the government must not “simply roll out a red carpet and give a platform for the president of the United States” to “sow discord in our communities.”
“We know that he… will keep doing this and keep spreading extremism.”
Rudd stopped short of saying the royal invitation might be rescinded, but made it clear that there would be no formal visit any time soon. “An invitation for the visit has been extended and accepted, but the dates and the precise arrangements have yet to be agreed,” she said.