London’s mayor hits back in battle with Donald Trump

The US president called Sadiq Khan a ‘loser’ who should focus more on London’s crime

London mayor Sadiq Khan has rallied against the policies of president Donald Trump. AFP
London mayor Sadiq Khan has rallied against the policies of president Donald Trump. AFP

London mayor Sadiq Khan got his retaliation in first in a fierce war of words with Donald Trump at the outset of the US leader’s pomp and circumstance-filled state visit to Britain.

The Muslim city leader compared the actions of the US president to fascist European dictators of the 1930’s and 40’s and the brutal regime of North Korea, claiming Mr Trump’s “xenophobia” and “racism” meant it was wrong for him to receive a state-visit to the UK.

Mr Khan has consistently rallied against Mr Trump’s Muslim travel ban and immigration policies that “forcefully separates young children from their parents at the border.” Mr Trump has previously said parts of London were “no-go-areas” for police because of the Muslim population.

Mr Khan, a Labour Party member and the London-born son of British-Pakistani parents, embodies the multiculturalism that is evident in a city that Mr Trump has been so keen to deride. His “London is Open” campaign following the 2016 Brexit referendum was praised as a unifying and inclusive statement of the city’s internationalist outlook.

The capital’s first Muslim mayor, has been keen to underline that anyone from anywhere could help the diverse city flourish. It’s said over 300 languages are spoken in London.

Calling out Mr Trump on Sunday, Mr Khan said some of the president’s actions were the complete “antithesis” to the values cherished by most residents in the city. His comments mirrored the many to have slammed the red-carpet roll out for the president.

In a video directed at Mr Trump and released by ELLE UK on Monday, the mayor said the president stood for values at the “complete opposite of London’s values”.

“We think diversity is not a weakness. Diversity is a strength.”

He has also rubbished Mr Trump’s attitude to climate change. The president has largely rejected the overwhelming evidence about global warming, with detractors accusing him of blocking efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. He has withdrawn the US from the 2015 Paris agreement that seeks to slow global warming arguing it damages the economy.

The mayor, who declared a climate emergency last December, is just one of many to urge the UK government to try to alter Mr Trump’s attitudes to the global problem.

“The science shows that you’re wrong. And you’ve got to stop governing in self-interest,” he told Unearthed.

But the president has never been one to bite his tongue. In his torrent of abuse on Monday, he called Mr Khan a “stone cold loser” who had done a “terrible job” and failed to remedy London’s crime situation.

Stabbings and murders have surged in London over the last two years with numbers the worst in the capital in a decade.

Critics of Mr Trump accuse him of failing to recognise the US gun problem, that has seen countless people murdered in shooting sprees facilitated by comparatively relaxed gun laws.

On Monday, a spokesman for the Mr Khan said the president was the ”most egregious example of a growing far-right threat around the globe.”

London’s crime problem, however, remains a particularly sticky and sensitive point for the mayor with his predecessor Boris Johnson also twisting the knife on Monday as he launched his campaign to become prime minister.

“Safe, big city it was when I used to run it. I can tell you, we got crime down by 20 per cent, we got the murder rate down,” Mr Johnson told a man at his door.

Responding, the man said he didn’t want to insult Mr Khan but that the current crime rate was “not good.”

Mr Trump has also shown himself to be an ally of Mr Johnson and has described the former foreign minister as a friend – even if they have clashed over the president’s comment about London when the latter was mayor.

But it was Mr Johnson’s successor as foreign minister, Jeremy Hunt, who bore the brunt of Mr Trump’s anger at Mr Khan in what looked on camera like a lengthy tirade at the foot of Air Force One.

"All I would say is that spat started because the mayor of London and other people in the Labour party decided to boycott this visit and I think that is just totally inappropriate,” said the foreign minister.

What happens between the mayor and president next remains to be seen.

Updated: June 3, 2019 07:18 PM

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