Khan: Trump Is ‘Poster Boy for Racists’, ‘Defended White Supremacists at Charlottesville’

London mayor Sadiq Khan has reignited his long-running feud with U.S. President Donald Trump, branding the American leader “the poster boy for a global far-right movement” along with Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, Italy’s Matteo Salvini, France Marine Le Pen, and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage.

Speaking on President Trump’s recent state visit to the United Kingdom at a Mayor’s Question Time session at the London Assembly, the Labour politician accused the American leader, Prime Minister Orbán, Deputy Prime Minister Salvini, Ms Le Pen, and Mr Farage of “using the same methods from the old far-right playbook: picking on minority communities and the marginalised to manufacture an enemy; fabricating lies to stoke up fear; and promoting hatred of immigrants, sympathy for white nationalism, attacks on women’s reproductive rights, and rolling back the progress made on LGBT+ rights.”

Mayor Khan alleged that President Trump had “repeatedly made sexist and derogatory comments about women”, “defended white supremacists, antisemites, and far-right nationalists”, and “deliberately used racism, xenophobia, and otherness as an electoral tactic”.

This alleged behaviour, Khan claimed, “flies in the face of the ideals that America was founded upon”, which he said were “equality, liberty, and religious freedom.”

The Mayor said the British government should have instead offered the U.S. leader only a working visit, which should have used “to speak out and to say Trump’s views are incompatible for British values” and pose a “grave threat” to Britain and America’s shared principles.

“Mr Mayor, you’re absolutely wrong,” replied David Kurten, an Assembly Member representing the Brexit Alliance group — formerly aligned to UKIP — in defence of the American leader.

“President Trump is one of the greatest presidents of the United States, in fact, on a par with President Reagan,” Kurten insisted, to jeers and heckling from Labour members, which required the intervention of the chairwoman before he could continue.

“It was absolutely right that the Queen and the Prime Minister invited President Trump as the President of the United States and one of the greatest presidents to come to this country,” he said.

“The only fly in the ointment in his wonderful visit was when you, Mr Mayor, decided, for no reason whatsoever, to put an article in the Observer the day before he came [which] was very, very rude… and it was wrong to do that,” Kurten accused.

The Brexiteer challenged Mayor Khan on his accusation that President Trump had interfered in British politics by endorsing Boris Johnson for Tory leader — which he pointed out was “not entirely accurate; [Trump] called Boris Johnson his friend; he called Nigel Farage his friend as well, another great man” — observing that Khan had himself interfered in U.S. elections.

“You yourself, Mr Mayor, in 2016 interfered in the American presidential election when you backed the loser, Hillary Clinton, brazenly and openly,” Kurten recalled.

“Your hero defended white supremacists at Charlottesville, he gave equivalence to white supremacists [and] antisemites to anti-racist campaigners, one of who lost their lives,” Khan shot back.

“He’s a poster boy for racists,” he added.

The claim that President Trump “defended white supremacists” at Charlottesville when he said there were “fine people on both sides” of protests over the removal of Confederate statues in 2017 — and pointed out that “the alt-left” who “came charging with clubs in their hands swinging” were also violent — has been oft-repeated.

It appears to have no basis in fact, however, given the President was absolutely clear that he was “not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally”.

Mr Kurten then took up Mayor Khan on his willingness to host representatives from Muslim-majority countries with policies much more fascistic than those of the U.S. leader.

“You yourself rolled out the red carpet for a number of ambassadors of countries which have got terrible records on human rights,” Kurten suggested.

“You rolled out the red carpet for the ambassadors of Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen — countries which all have travel bans on Israeli citizens,” he alleged.

“If you’re a woman in Iran and you decide not to wear a hijab you can get put in prison, but you’ve never said anything about that,” he added.

“What have you got to say about the Iranian regime’s throwing women in prison if they decide not to wear a hijab?”

Mayor Khan did not address the question directly, simply dismissing it by saying he “did not have the power” to “invite anybody for a state visit”, specifically, and that a working visit by President Trump would have been fine.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery
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