Sunday 18 February 2018

May rebukes Trump over 'unhelpful' terror attack tweets

One of the 29 passengers injured in the blast. Photo: Kevin Coombs
One of the 29 passengers injured in the blast. Photo: Kevin Coombs

Nick Allen

British Prime Minister Theresa May rebuked Donald Trump in a diplomatic row over the Parsons Green tube attack after he suggested those responsible had been "in the sights of Scotland Yard".

Mrs May called the intervention by the US president "unhelpful", as he appeared to claim Britain needed to be "tougher" and more "proactive" in the fight against terrorism.

The row threatened to undermine the special relationship and intelligence sharing arrangements between the UK and US.

Mr Trump, not for the first time, also used the attack to justify his controversial proposed travel ban on people from some predominantly Muslim countries entering the US.

Following a backlash against his comments the president said he would be telephoning Mrs May "right now". Summarising that call, a White House spokesman said: "He conveyed his sympathies and prayers for those injured in the terrorist attack in London.

"The president pledged to continue close collaboration with the United Kingdom to stop attacks worldwide targeting innocent civilians and to combat extremism."

It was unclear whether Mr Trump had received a briefing before making his claims, in which case he leaked British intelligence, or if he jumped to a conclusion without evidence about who was behind the attack.

In a series of tweets, Mr Trump wrote: "Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive! Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner. The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off and use better!"

He added: "The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific - but stupidly, that would not be politically correct.

"We have made more progress in the last nine months against Isis than the Obama Administration has made in eight years. Must be proactive and nasty!"

The timing of his tweets suggested it was unlikely he had been briefed on British intelligence, and UK security services said they did not know who was responsible.

After chairing a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergencies committee, Mrs May said it was not "helpful" to speculate on an ongoing investigation, and the police were still working to identify who had carried it out.

In Downing Street, Mrs May said: "I never think it's helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation. The police and security services are working to discover the full circumstances of this cowardly attack and to identify all those responsible."

Her comments were echoed by the Metropolitan Police which said Mr Trump's intervention was "unhelpful" and "pure speculation".

Irish Independent

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