- UK Prime Minister Theresa May has called President Donald Trump’s tweets about a group of Democratic congresswomen “completely unacceptable.”
- In her strongest criticism of the US president yet, the UK prime minister slammed Trump for tweeting that the lawmakers, most of whom were born in the US, should “go back” to their countries.
- “The prime minister’s view is that the language used to refer to these women was completely unacceptable,” May’s representative said on Monday.
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Prime Minister Theresa May has lambasted President Donald Trump for saying a group of Democratic lawmakers, most of whom were born in the US, should “go back” to their countries.
Trump tweeted on Sunday morning asking the “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen” – widely interpreted as a reference to Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota – to “go back” to their “corrupt” and “broken and crime infested” countries.
The president said the congresswomen were “loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run.”
Trump suggested that the congresswomen, who he said“originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all),” should “go back and help fix” the “places from which they came.”
Of the four freshman Democratic lawmakers thought to be at the center of Trump’s tweets, all women of colour, only Omar, who came to the US as a refugee from Somalia when she was a child, was born outside the country.
A representative for UK Prime Minister May on Monday said: “The prime minister’s view is that the language used to refer to these women was completely unacceptable.”
The response represents May’s strongest criticism of Trump yet, and it comes after the president was last week dubbed “disrespectful and wrong” by the UK foreign secretary for describing May’s handling of Brexit negotiations as “foolish” and a “disaster.”
There is growing tension between Washington and London after the publishing last week of leaked private memos in which the UK’s ambassador to the US, Kim Darroch, criticised the Trump administration.
In the notes, the UK ambassador to the US said Trump’s government was “uniquely dysfunctional” and added: “We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal.”
He also described Trump’s presidency as “dysfunctional,” “incompetent,” and “inept.”
Darroch quit after Trump described him as a “very stupid guy” and a “pompous fool” and said he would not work with him in the future.
What were Trump’s tweets about?
Trump tweeted amid infighting between House Democrats, most notably between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez, who accused Pelosi of “explicitly singling out” the “newly elected women of colour.”
Pelosi told The New York Times that Ocasio-Cortez and the other freshmen “didn’t have any following.”
Trump doubled down Monday, tweeting: “When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologise to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said. So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!”
Analysis: A troubled relationship
May’s condemnation of Trump is her strongest yet and marks the end of a relationship she spent much of her premiership attempting to nurture.
Her decision, early in her term, to invite the president for a state visit to the UK was criticised heavily by political opponents at the time. But with the UK’s exit date from the European Union approaching, May judged that forging a close relationship with the new US administration was crucial to finding a new role for the UK in the world.
Against the advice of some around her, May pushed ahead, laying on the full regalia of a state visit for Trump, including a banquet at Buckingham Palace.
Her efforts went largely unrewarded. Throughout his term, Trump made repeated criticisms of May’s handling of Brexit negotiations as well as a series of unwanted interventions in British diplomacy.
His support for Nigel Farage, now the Brexit Party leader, to become the UK’s new ambassador to the US was rebuffed by May, and his later public attacks on Darroch created a major diplomatic crisis between the two countries.
It all culminated in Trump last week labelling her “foolish” and her handling of Brexit a “mess,” with May’s condemnation Monday an apparent belated reply.
May’s expected replacement as prime minister, Boris Johnson, is similarly determined to forge a closer relationship with Trump, and has been similarly criticised for doing so.
Time will tell whether Johnson’s efforts to win over the president will be any more successful than May’s.
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