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britain first

Theresa May says Trump's retweets of Britain First were 'wrong' - but he's still welcome to visit

A Trump spokesperson says that whether the videos are accurate or not is unimportant.

IN A RARE rebuke to Britain’s closest ally, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said that US President Donald Trump was wrong to retweet videos posted by a leader of a British far-right group.

However, Downing St rejected calls from opposition lawmakers to revoke Trump’s invitation to pay a state visit to Britain.

Trump caused a stir after retweeting three videos from the account of deputy Britain First leader Jayda Fransen, purporting to show violence by Muslims. The veracity of at least one of the videos has been questioned by Dutch media.

The tiny extremist group, meanwhile, appeared delighted at the publicity boost from a leader with almost 44 million Twitter followers.

In response, Labour Party lawmaker David Lammy tweeted: “@realDonaldTrump you are not welcome in my country and my city.”

Another Labour legislator, Chuka Umunna, said Trump’s invitation to visit Britain “should be withdrawn”.

Lawmaker Chris Bryant went so far as saying that Trump should be arrested for inciting religious hatred if he came to the UK.

May announced in January that Trump had accepted an invitation for a state visit to Britain, one of the biggest honours the country can bestow on foreign leaders. Almost a year later, no date has been set, and opponents of Trump have vowed to stage large protests if he does come.

May’s spokesman, James Slack, said it was “wrong” for the president to have retweeted Britain First as the group seeks to divide communities through its use of “hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions.”

But May’s office said the state visit would not be canceled.

Trump Muslims AP AP

Founded in 2011, Britain First opposes multiculturalism and what it calls the “Islamisation” of Britain.

Small but publicity-savvy, it has staged direct-action protests at mosques and is active on social media. The group regularly posts inflammatory videos purporting to show violence by Muslims, without context or supporting information.

Fransen, 31, was convicted last year of religiously aggravated harassment after hurling abuse at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab during what was billed as a “Christian patrol” in the town of Luton, north of London.

She currently faces four unrelated counts of harassment relating to leaflets and videos and a separate charge of hate speech.

The threat

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the retweets.

She said that she was not sure how Trump found the videos, but said their authenticity was not an issue.

“Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real and that is what the president is talking about.”

She says she had not discussed with the president how it could impact his relationship with May.

British authorities have warned about a growing threat from violent far-right extremism.

Read: Donald Trump has been retweeting anti-Muslim videos from a British far-right leader

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Associated Foreign Press
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