- Donald Trump said sorry in an interview on British TV.
- He told Piers Morgan that he hadn’t known who Britain First were when he retweeted anti-Muslim videos from their deputy leader in November.
- It sparked a highly unusual public confrontation between Washington and London.
- Trump said: “If you are telling me they’re horrible people, horrible, racist people, I would certainly apologise if you’d like me to do that.”
US President Donald Trump has apologised for retweeting a string of anti-Muslim hate videos posted by the British far-right.
Trump used an appearance on UK television channel ITV to acknowledge that Britain First, the party whose deputy leader he hugely amplified by retweeting three posts, were “horrible, racist people.”
He told Piers Morgan, the host of ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” and a personal friend, that he had known little about the group and was willing to apologise for the incident, which took place in late November.
Here’s a photograph of the exchange:
According to a preview of the interview, seen by Business Insider, he said: “I don’t want to cause any difficulty for your country.
“If you are telling me they’re horrible people, horrible, racist people, I would certainly apologise if you’d like me to do that.”
A clip of the exchange was aired on Friday morning, and it is due to be broadcast in full on Sunday at 10 p.m. UK time.
The retraction is a huge climb-down from Trump’s earlier position on the subject, which strained relations between London and Washington.
Prime Minister Theresa May took the unusual step of rebuking Trump in public for the retweets, which were also condemned by MPs in the House of Commons.
May said Trump was “wrong” to post the tweets, but some of her senior ministers went much further, such as cabinet minister Sajid Javid, who has Muslim heritage:
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
Trump initially hit back, tweeting Theresa May effectively telling her to mind her own business.
But now, almost exactly two months later, he appeared to put UK-US relations ahead of his typical reluctance to apologise.
Here is a video of the exchange and quotes from Trump:
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) January 26, 2018
“I know nothing about them [Britain First] and I know nothing about them today. Other than I read a little bit. I guess, again I’m in the United States, so I didn’t read as much about it, perhaps it was a big story in Britain, perhaps it was a big story in the UK.
“But in the United States it wasn’t a big story. I did a retweet. When you do your own tweeting, or you do your own social media, it’s fine. When you do those retweets it can cause problems, because you never know who’s doing it to start off with.”
[When asked whether he was endorsing racists with the tweets]
“I don’t know who they are, I know nothing about them, so I wouldn’t be doing that.
“I am, as I say often, the least racist person that anybody’s going to meet. Certainly I wasn’t endorsing anybody. I knew nothing about them.
“They had I guess a couple of depictions of radical Islamic terror. Radical Islamic terror, whether you like talking about it or not Piers, it’s a fact. You look at what’s going on in UK and you look at what’s going on all over the world, you can try and shield it…”
[Asked whether he regrets the tweets]
“Look, it was done because I am a big believer in fighting radical Islamic terror. This was a depiction of radical Islamic terror.
“The real me is somebody that loves Britain, loves the UK. I love Scotland. One of the biggest problems I have in winning, I won’t be able to get back there so often. I would love to go there. As you know, before this happened, I would be there a lot. Very special people and a very special place. I don’t want to cause any difficulty for your country, that I can tell you.”
[Asked if he’ll apologise]
“Here’s what’s fair, if you’re telling me they’re horrible people, horrible racist people I would certainly apologise if you would like me to do that. I know nothing about them.
“I don’t want to be involved with [these] people, but you’re telling me about these people because I know nothing about these people.”
[On his relationship with Theresa May]
“I can tell you I have a very good relationship with your Prime Minister who I just left. She’s been doing a very good job. We actually have a very good relationship, although a lot of people think we don’t. I support her, I support a lot of what she does and a lot of what she says and I support you militarily very much. We will come to your defence if anything should happen, which hopefully will never happen. I am a tremendous supporter of the UK.”