Sunday 20 August 2017

London Mayor hits out at Trump's 'uninformed' tweets in wake of London attack

Donald Trump. Photo: Getty Images
Donald Trump. Photo: Getty Images

Andrew Woodcock

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has hit back at Donald Trump, after the US president accused him of suggesting that people should not be "alarmed" by terror attacks on the capital

In a series of tweets the morning after the London Bridge atrocity, Mr Trump said it was time to "stop being politically correct", adding: "At least seven dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is 'no reason to be alarmed!'"

But a spokesman for Mr Khan branded the comment "ill-informed" and said the president had deliberately taken out of context remarks made by the mayor to reassure people about the increased police presence in the wake of the attack.

Speaking on the BBC, Mr Khan made clear that he was advising Londoners and visitors not to be concerned by the presence of additional armed police officers on the streets of the capital in the days to come, and not playing down anxieties about the attack itself.

"My message to Londoners and visitors to our great city is to be calm and vigilant today," Mr Khan said.

"You will see an increased police presence today, including armed officers and uniformed officers. There is no reason to be alarmed by this."

In response, Mr Trump tweeted: "We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don't get smart it will only get worse."

He then tweeted a few minutes later: "At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is 'no reason to be alarmed!'"

And he took an opportunity to defend his own resistance to gun control in the US, saying: "Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That's because they used knives and a truck!"

A spokesman for Mr Khan later said: "The mayor is busy working with the police, emergency services and the Government to co-ordinate the response to this horrific and cowardly terrorist attack and provide leadership and reassurance to Londoners and visitors to our city.

"He has more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump's ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks urging Londoners not to be alarmed when they saw more police - including armed officers - on the streets."

Meanwhile, Mr Trump's son Donald Jr tweeted a link to an article from last year in which Mr Khan said that being prepared for terror attacks was "part and parcel" of living in a big city, with the comment: "You have to be kidding me!?"

Mr Trump's outspoken comments stood in stark contrast to the messages of support and sympathy from leading figures from Britain and around the world.

Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims of the London attacks during a traditional Sunday blessing following Mass at the Vatican.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she learned with "sadness and dismay" of the attack.

She added: "Today, we are united beyond all borders in horror and sorrow, but also in determination.

"In the fight against every form of terrorism, we stand firmly and with determination at Britain's side."

French President Emmanuel Macron - who spoke with Prime Minister Theresa May by phone - said: "France is more than ever at the side of the United Kingdom in response to this new tragedy.

"My thoughts are with victims and their loved ones."

In a telegram of condolences to Mrs May, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the London Bridge attack was "shocking in its cruelty and cynicism", according to the Kremlin website.

The statement said Mr Putin "expressed his confidence that the response to the incident should be the escalating of joint efforts in the fight against the forces of terror around the world".

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker wrote to Mrs May offering the body's "full and unwavering support", adding: "The cowardly people who committed these attacks will not undermine our resilience, our compassion or our democracies."

Mr Trump had earlier tweeted: "Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U. K., we will be there - WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!" And the US State Department said America was ready to provide assistance to UK authorities.

Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: "Our hearts are with the families and loved ones of the victims. We wish a full and quick recovery to those injured in the attacks.

"All Americans stand in solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom."

Mrs May herself offered her "huge gratitude" to the emergency services as the incident unfolded, adding: "Our thoughts are with those who are caught up in these dreadful events."

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the attacks in London Bridge and Borough Market were "targeted at people enjoying their evening with friends and family".

"As ever, in difficult and traumatic circumstances, I am extremely proud of and thankful to our police and emergency services who responded so swiftly and those who will work tirelessly as the investigation into this appalling act continues," she said.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned the "dreadful terrorist attack" and said: "In response, as in Manchester, all communities must come together.

"Our strength is the strength of our community to unity, that was shown in Manchester after the horrible event there and I am sure that it will be exactly the same in London."

Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, and I would like to pay tribute to the emergency services for their professional response in such terrible circumstances.

"The terrorists kill us because they hate us and what we stand for. They hate our democracy and our freedom. We refuse to let them win. We must respond with a vigorous commitment to our democracy."

Singer Ariana Grande, whose Manchester concert was hit by a suicide bombing which killed 22 people less than two weeks ago, expressed her support for those affected by the London Bridge attack.

She tweeted simply: "Praying for London".

Evening Standard editor and former chancellor George Osborne, said: "People enjoying a night out once again appear to be the target of terror. Emergency services once again heroic. London will stay strong."

Brendan Cox, whose wife Jo Cox MP was murdered by a nationalist terrorist last summer, wrote: "Thinking of everyone caught up in yet more pointless horror.

"It will achieve nothing, it will not change us, it will not defeat us."

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Following the horrific terrorist attack in the centre of London last night, we are working closely with the UK Government and Police Scotland to monitor the situation. Later today I will chair a meeting of the Scottish Government's Resilience Committee.

"My thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have tragically lost their lives and with everyone who has been harmed or affected by these terrible incidents."

Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charles Flanagan said: "For the second time in two weeks, the ordinary people of the UK have been subjected to cowardly and barbaric attacks. Ireland stands with the UK and condemns these acts utterly."

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