Boris Johnson has rejected calls to cancel Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK after the US president’s Twitter attack on London’s mayor.
Mr Trump criticised Sadiq Khan in the wake of the London Bridge attack, after he told Londoners not to be alarmed about an increased police presence.
Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson said Mr Khan had been “entirely right”.
But he said there was no reason to axe the visit, despite calls by Mr Khan, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron and others.
Mr Farron has labelled Mr Trump “an embarrassment to America”, adding on Twitter: “Theresa May must withdraw the state visit. This is a man insulting our national values at a time of introspection and mourning.”
Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson – who is also a former London mayor – defended Mr Khan, saying he had been “entirely right to say what he said to reassure people of his city about the presence of armed officers on the streets”.
But he told the Today programme the state visit invitation had been issued and accepted and he saw “no reason to change that”.
He told BBC Newsnight: “We have to jettison political correctness. We have to apply honesty to the threat and saying, ‘It’s just business as usual, don’t worry about a thing’, [is] a Pollyannaish attitude to a threat that has killed 170 people in the last two years in Europe alone and maimed more than 700.”
He insisted there was no chance the state visit would be cancelled, saying: “If anybody thinks that a state visit is held hostage to Twitter then they have no understanding of the relationship between London and Washington.”
Seven people were killed and 48 injured when three men drove a van into pedestrians and stabbed people in bars in the London Bridge and Borough Market areas of the capital on Saturday night.
Speaking in the aftermath of the attack, Mr Khan said there were no words to describe the “grief and anger” the city was feeling, before saying: “Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. No reason to be alarmed.”
The US president criticised Mr Khan for this on Twitter, saying: “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!'”
A spokesman for Mr Khan responded, saying he had “more important things to do” than respond to Donald Trump’s “ill-informed tweet” that “deliberately” took his remarks “out of context”.
But Mr Trump tweeted again on Monday, saying: “Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his “no reason to be alarmed” statement. MSM [mainstream media] is working hard to sell it!”
Appearing on Channel 4 News on Monday evening, Mr Khan said he didn’t think the UK should “roll out the red carpet to the president of the USA in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for”.
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Former Conservative Party chairman, Baroness Warsi, said the state visit should be indefinitely postponed, telling the BBC’s Newsnight: “We should just keep kicking this visit into the long grass.”
Labour’s Chuka Umunna, said Mr Trump had been “incredibly insensitive” for “turning this into some kind of row” and he hoped the visit would be cancelled if Labour won Thursday’s general election.
He said: “If he comes here, given his unpopularity, just think about the huge police resource which is going to have to go into manning that state visit.”
Prime Minister Theresa May defended Mr Khan on Monday, saying he’s “doing a good job and it’s wrong to say anything else” – but stopped short of criticising Mr Trump.
Mr Khan and the US president have clashed several times in the past, with the London mayor criticising Mr Trump’s remarks about Muslims and his attempts to bring in a travel ban against people from six mainly-Muslim countries trying to enter the US, and Mr Trump labelling him a “buffoon” and challenging him to an IQ test.
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