We asked Derbyshire MPs what they thought about calls to deny Donald Trump the honour of State Visit to Britain following his controversial tweets and criticism of Prime Minister Teresa May.
The President was widely condemned for sharing inflammatory anti-Muslim videos posted online by the deputy leader of the far-right group Britain First.
When a Downing Street spokesman said he had been "wrong" to do so the president hit back, tweeting: ".@Theresa_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!"
Following the outcry, there have been calls for the offer of a State Visit for President Trump to come to the UK to be withdrawn. We asked local MPs for their view on his comments and the suggestion he shouldn't be given the honour of a State Visit.
Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins said: "The purpose of state visits are to deepen the bond between nations, it is impossible to see how Donald Trump coming to Britain, and all the hostility that his visit would engender, could possibly achieve that.
"Talks are important, and just because we disagree with someone that should not prevent us discussing issues to further understanding, but it would be better for future relations between Britain and the US and the rest of the world if that was done in quiet meeting rooms than with the pomp and circumstance of a state visit for someone who has so disrespected our country and clearly holds such divisive and reprehensible views.
"America remains a crucial ally, and they should be assured that our disgust at the actions of their president in no way diminishes our respect for them as a people.
Lee Rowley, MP for NE Derbyshire, said: "It is totally, utterly and completely wrong. I reject the prejudiced rhetoric of Britain First and so should Donald Trump. I’m pleased the PM has led the condemnation of his behaviour."
Pauline Latham, MP for Mid Derbyshire added:"‘I think he [President Donald Trump] is completely wrong to allow those videos to gain publicity and to pander to extreme right views."
High Peak MP Ruth George added: " “I abhor the racial and religious hatred promoted by Britain First and am appalled that any politician in a position of responsibility should seek to endorse and spread those views to millions of their own followers.
“In the circumstances, I believe that any visit to the U.K. by Donald Trump would only serve to encourage the far right, and stir up tensions between communities, just as the President’s remarks and tweets have done in some parts of the USA.
“I hope that the invitation to visit the UK will be withdrawn until Donald Trump makes clear his opposition to all racial and religious hatred and to the divisive propaganda perpetrated by Britain First and other extremist organisations.”
The US president caused outrage after retweeting to his 43.6 million followers three posts by Jayda Fransen, including unverified footage purporting to show Muslims 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” share the posts. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Mr Trump had been seeking to “promote strong borders and strong national security”.
Pressed on whether the president had a responsibility to verify the content of the postings, Ms Sanders said: “Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real and that is what the president is talking about.” The posts included unverified videos titled “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” and “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!”
Fransen, 31, who was convicted last November of religiously aggravated harassment for hurling abuse at a Muslim woman in a hijab, appeared to celebrate the president’s actions, tweeting moments later “God bless you Trump”. Elsewhere they caused outrage, with Downing Street making clear the Government’s dismay at way he had publicised the views of a such far-right group.
“Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said. “They cause anxiety to law-abiding people. “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. “It is wrong for the president to have done this.”
The widower of MP Jo Cox, who was murdered by right-wing extremist Thomas Mair as he shouted “Britain first”, said postings were “horrific”.
Despite the outcry, the Prime Minister’s spokesman made clear the invitation for the president to make a state visit to the UK, made when Theresa May met Mr Trump in Washington in January, still stood. “The invitation for a state visit has been extended and accepted. Further details will be announced in due course,” the spokesman said.