Trump lashes out at May over Britain First criticism

Downing Street had condemned him for sharing anti-Muslim videos posted by the far-right group.

Donald Trump has lashed out at Theresa May, telling the prime minister "don't focus on me" after Downing Street condemned the president for sharing anti-Muslim videos posted online by the deputy leader of Britain First.

Trump said May should instead "focus on the destructive radical Islamic terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom."

The US president sparked outrage on Wednesday after pushing three video posts by Jayda Fransen, including footage from the Netherlands purporting to show a Muslim migrant committing crimes.

The prime minister's official spokesman said Britain First was dedicated to causing division among communities and that the president had been "wrong" to share the posts.

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"It is wrong for the president to have done this," the spokesman said, adding that Britain First "cause anxiety to law-abiding people".

The spokesman said Britain First sought to divide communities through its use of "hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions".

"British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far-right which is the antithesis of the values that this country represents - decency, tolerance and respect," he added.

But the spokesman made clear that the controversial invitation for the President to make a state visit to the UK still stood.

"The invitation for a state visit has been extended and accepted. Further details will be announced in due course," the spokesman said.

Earlier, Sajid Javid slammed Trump for retweeting Britain First, which the Communities Secretary said "hates me and people like me".

Writing on Twitter, Javid said Trump is "wrong" and he refuses to "let it go".

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also derided the group, describing Britain First as "divisive" and "hateful."

Jayda Fransen is the deputy leader of far-right group Britain First. PA

Ms Fransen, 31, from Penge, south-east London, is on bail facing four charges of causing religiously aggravated harassment as part of a Kent Police investigation into the distribution of leaflets and the posting of online videos during a trial held at Canterbury Crown Court in May.

She will also appear in court in Northern Ireland in December charged with using threatening and abusive language in connection with a speech she made at an anti-terrorism demonstration in Belfast on August 6.

Ms Fransen responded to the re-tweets by saying: "God bless you Trump! God bless America!"

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Brendan Cox, widower of MP Jo Cox who was murdered by a right-wing extremist, said: "Trump has legitimised the far right in his own country, now he's trying to do it in ours. Spreading hatred has consequences & the President should be ashamed of himself."

Paul Joseph Watson, the UK-based editor of far-right conspiracy website Infowars, said: "Yeah, someone might want to tell whoever is running Trump's Twitter account this morning that retweeting Britain First is not great optics."

A spokesman for anti-fascism campaign group Hope not Hate said: "It beggars belief that a US president would share this material. Even Donald Trump.

"Anyone with half a brain knows that Britain First is an extreme right movement that has had links to Loyalism, claims to "invade" mosques, used murdered British soldier Lee Rigby's name against the wishes of his family to help it campaign in elections, and has bought many of its supposed followers on social media."

He added: "What on earth was Trump thinking, trying to propel it forwards?"

THE VIDEOS

All three of the videos retweeted by Mr Trump from Ms Fransen are more than six months old, and two date back as early as 2013.

One video, shared by Britain First with the caption 'Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches', is now the most popular from any of the group's twitter accounts.

It has received almost four times the retweets since Trump shared it.

Officials at the Dutch public prosecution issued a statement correcting the tweet and its caption.

It said:

  • According to the De Telegraff newspaper, two 16-year-old boys were arrested and the boys' religions were not included in reports.
  • The other two videos, claiming to show violence and vandalism perpetrated by Muslims, date back to 2013 and 2015.
  • One shows an incident during riots in Alexandria, Egypt, in 2013, and another has very little contextual information to verify it.
White House press secretary refused to comment on the accuracy of the videos. PA

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters she would not comment on the veracity of the videos.

In footage shared by broadcaster NBC News, she said: "I'm not talking about the nature of the video. I think you're focusing on the wrong thing."

She added: "The threat is real, the threat needs to be addressed, the threat has to be talked about and that's what the president is doing in bringing that up."

In July, a Press Association investigation found at least 10 misleading videos posted by the group to Twitter and Facebook over a two-month period.

Despite being alerted to the misleading nature of those videos, Twitter and Facebook declined to remove them.

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