NEWS
19/01/2018 17:54 GMT | Updated 22/01/2018 11:09 GMT

12 Times Donald Trump's White House Insulted Britain In His First Year As President

Sadiq Khan. Theresa May. South London. His list of British targets is long.

It seemed to start so well. Theresa May was the first foreign leader Donald Trump met as president, and their January meeting was so cosy it was defined by the moment they held hands as they walked down a set the stairs together.

By December though things had fallen apart and May was forced, not for the first time, to publicly condemn him.

On the first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, Britons could be forgiven for losing count of all the times the President has offended the UK in just 12 months. Thankfully, we haven’t forgotten... 

Christopher Furlong via Getty Images
Happier times: Trump and May hold hands as they walk along The Colonnade of the West Wing at The White House

January 2017 - Trump Signs The Travel Ban

Theresa May was just flying home from Washington when Trump signed an executive order banning travel to the US by citizens of seven Muslim countries. As chaos reigned at airports around the world and world leaders condemned the president, the PM stayed silent.

The Foreign Office feared it could affect Britons born in any of the seven countries, such as Somali-born Olympian Sir Mo Farah or Iraqi-born Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi, who called the order “a sad day for the USA”.

Five days after the order was signed, May finally told the Commons: “This government is clear that that policy is wrong. We wouldn’t do it. We believe it is divisive and wrong.”

PA Wire/PA Images
All smiles: Trump and May at their January meeting. He signed the travel ban order just after she left Washington, shocking British politicians

February - Trump Slags Off The BBC

“Another beauty,” Trump said of the BBC when its reporter Jon Sopel rose to ask a question at a bizarre press conference in February. When Sopel responded the BBC was “free and fair”, Trump hit back: “Yeah, just like CNN.”

Given how much he hates the American broadcaster - he once tweeted a video of himself wrestling a CNN logo to the ground - that is about the worst insult the president could give to one of Britain’s premier cultural institutions.

Sopel joked he would get “another beauty” put on his business card and used the phrase as a promotional blurb on his book.

March - The White House Says GCHQ Spied On Trump Tower

In March, Trump sent a series of tweets claiming Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower.

As the bizarre comment was repeated over several days, White House press secretary Sean Spicer repeated a media commentator’s claim that British intelligence agency GCHQ was behind it.

In a rare public statement, the agency called the claim “utterly ridiculous”. May’s spokesman later said the US Government had undertaken not to repeat it.

March - Donald Trump Jr Condemns Sadiq Khan

Hostility to the mayor of London is something Donald Trump Jr has in common with his dad.

And like his dad, Trump Jr attacked Sadiq Khan this year by taking remarks the mayor made after a London terror attack out of context.

Khan urged Londoners to be vigilant after the Westminster attack, saying such events were “part and parcel of living in a big city”. 

Trump Jr, who has been running his father’s business since the election, tweeted: “You have to be kidding me!?”

Labour MP Wes Streeting called Trump Jr a “disgrace” for the tweet.

June - Trump Says The London Bridge Attack Showed His Travel Ban Was Right - Before Anyone Knew What Was Going On

On the evening of June 3, news was breaking that a group of men had crashed a van into pedestrians and attacked people with knives, leaving eight people dead. Before the full picture was even close to emerging, Trump retweeted rightwing The Drudge Report’s claim that a van had “mowed down 20 people”.

Refocussing attention on himself, Trump then used the still-developing incident to promote his travel ban, which he was then fighting the courts to implement.

Moving down the priority list, Trump decided it would look statesmanlike to say something supportive.

June - Sadiq Khan Is Slammed By A Trump For Trying To Reassure People. Again.

Like father, like son. Donald Trump hit out at Sadiq Khan, who had sought to reassure Londoners about the increased police presence that followed the London Bridge attack - the second terror incident in the capital in 2017.

Khan actually said: “Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days. There’s no reason to be alarmed. One of the things the police and all of us need to do is ensure that we’re as safe as we possibly can be.

“I’m reassured that we are one of the safest global cities in the world, if not the safest global city, but we always evolve and review to make sure we’re as safe as we possibly can be.”

PA Wire/PA Images
Four months after the hand holding, May and Trump met at the Nato summit in Brussels and looked less happy to see each other

Trump Then Calls Khan ‘Pathetic’

Khan’s spokesperson said he was “too busy” to respond to Trump’s “ill-informed” tweet that “deliberately too his remarks out of context”.

Trump gracefully bowed out and said nothing.

Until the next day.

In response, Khan said he had “better and more important things to focus on” than Trump’s tweets. 

September - Trump Talks About Parsons Green Like He Knew More Than He Did

First there were reports of an explosion, then a stampede at a Tube station that injured many people. As police hunted for suspects, after three attacks in the UK that year, the hours after the Parsons Green incident were an anxious time in London. It was a time for politicians to speak out to calm people’s nerves.

“Another attack in London by a loser terrorist,” Trump tweeted. “These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard.”

By now, British authorities had got into the swing of responding to Trump.

“We don’t even know who the suspects are so it’s a bit difficult to say. It’s just speculation,” the Metropolitan Police said.

“I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on an ongoing investigation,” Theresa May said. 

“It’s never helpful to have speculation about an ongoing operation and I would include the president of the United States in that comment,” Home Secretary Amber Rudd said.

PA Wire/PA Images
Six months after the hand holding in the White House, May looked more cautious about taking the president's hand when they met in New York in September

October - Trump Claims A Rise In Crime Is Down To ‘Radical Islamic Terror’

England and Wales saw a 13% rise in crime, official statistics showed in October. Rises in burglary and sexual offences had contributed to the increase. Any explanation of it had to acknowledge the complex issues behind crime recording.

Trump:

“It is appalling that we have reached the point where inflammatory and ignorant statements from the President of the United States are now seen as normal,” MP Yvette Cooper said amid the anger that followed.

Trump did not let go his claim that Britain is under threat from radical Islamists.

He found someone on Twitter saying something on the subject that obviously chimed with him...

November - He Retweets A Far Right Islamophobe

Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of the fringe far right group Britain First, tweeted three videos about Muslims depicting them as dangerous, with commentary that was heavily debunked.

Trump retweeted all of them.

Twitter
Twitter
Twitter

As the world reeled from the endorsement, the White House said he shared the Britain First tweets because “the threat is real”.

This time, May didn’t have to wait to be asked what she thought. “It is wrong for the president to have done this,” she said. She added Britain First “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.”

Trump Then Tells May To Mind Her Own Business

Sadiq Khan could have warned May what would come next. No one who criticises Trump in measured terms escapes his Twitter account.

“Don’t focus on me,” Trump said, suggesting instead she look at “Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom”.

“We are doing just fine!” said Trump with the nervous energy of someone who was clearly doing fine.

May did not respond.

January 2018 - He Slags Off South London

It was at this point that Trump truly waded into a debate he did not grasp.

Last week, Trump said he wouldn’t come to open the new US embassy in Nine Elms because it was “off location” and the move from the building in Grosvenor Square was a “bad deal”.

So it definitely wasn’t the prospect of mass protests he is assured to face, whenever and however he came to the country.

“Donald won’t go south of the river,” was The Evening Standard’s front page.

“As a south Londoner, I take [Trump’s] comments about Nine Elms very personally,” Sadiq Khan later said.