LONDON, United Kingdom — London Mayor Sadiq Khan called on the UK government on Monday to cancel a state visit by US President Donald Trump following a public row, mainly on Twitter, over the weekend terror attack in the British capital.
“I don’t think we should roll out the red carpet to the president of the USA in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for,” Khan told Channel 4 on Monday.
“When you have a special relationship it is no different from when you have got a close mate. You stand with them in times of adversity but you call them out when they are wrong. There are many things about which Donald Trump is wrong,” he said.
Trump is expected to visit the UK later this year.
In a series of tweets in recent days, Trump criticized Khan’s leadership after the attack on Saturday in which three terrorists rammed a van into pedestrians on the London Bridge and then jumped out and proceeded to stab passersby and bar patrons, killing seven people and injuring dozens.
Khan had told Londoners there was “no reason to be alarmed” about an increased police presence in the coming days following the attack, a remark Trump mischaracterized in a Sunday tweet, suggesting the mayor had said there was “no reason to be alarmed” about the attack itself.
Khan’s spokesman said he was too busy to respond to Trump’s “ill-informed” tweet and Khan later told the BBC that “some people thrive on feud and division. We are not going to let Donald Trump divide our communities.”
“Honestly, I’ve got better and more important things to focus on,” he told Sky News.
Sadiq Khan has "more important things to do" than respond to Trump's tweets, says an aide pic.twitter.com/COH4kxikfM
— Matt Chorley (@MattChorley) June 4, 2017
But the US president renewed his attack on Monday, accusing London’s first Muslim mayor of offering a “pathetic excuse” and “had to think fast on his ‘no reason to be alarmed’ statement.”
Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his "no reason to be alarmed" statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
The war of words was the latest episode in a long simmering feud between Trump and Khan, who was elected as London’s mayor in May 2016. After his election last year, Khan tweeted criticism of then-candidate Trump’s rhetoric, saying that his “ignorant view of Islam could make both our countries less safe. It risks alienating mainstream Muslims.” Trump later challenged Khan to an IQ test during an interview on ITV.
The acting US ambassador to the UK, Lewis Lukens, meanwhile appeared to distance himself from Trump’s initial tweet, writing on Sunday: “I commend the strong leadership of the mayor of London as he leads the city forward after this heinous attack.
Trump has leaped on the London attacks as evidence of the need for hardline security measures in the United States, including a ban on travelers from some Muslim countries.
He followed that up Monday by doubling down on the alleged need for a travel ban, tweeting: That’s right, we need a TRAVEL BAN for certain DANGEROUS countries, not some politically correct term that won’t help us protect our people!
That's right, we need a TRAVEL BAN for certain DANGEROUS countries, not some politically correct term that won't help us protect our people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2017
His comments caused outrage among British officials.
British Prime Minister Theresa May was among those who came to Khan’s defense, though she declined to criticize Trump over the row.
“I think Sadiq Khan is doing a good job and it’s wrong to say anything else — he’s doing a good job,” she told a press conference on Monday.