Sajid Javid: Donald Trump has endorsed views of hate-filled Britain First

Sajid Javid has condemned Donald Trump for endorsing the views of far-right group Britain First which the Communities Secretary said "hates me and people like me".

The US president caused outrage after retweeting three posts by the group's deputy leader Jayda Fransen to his 43.6 million followers, including footage from the Netherlands purporting to show a Muslim migrant committing crimes.

The Dutch embassy in the US said the perpetrator of the violent act in the video was born and raised in the Netherlands.

In a Twitter post, Mr Javid said Mr Trump is "wrong" and he refuses to "let it go".

He tweeted: "So POTUS has endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me. He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing."

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson described the group as "divisive" and "hateful" but stopped short of criticising the president for sharing the posts.

He said on Twitter: "Britain First is a divisive, hateful group whose views are not in line with our values. UK has a proud history as an open, tolerant society and hate speech has no place here."

Earlier Downing Street made clear the Government's dismay at the way Mr Trump had publicised the views of the 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."

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president had been seeking to "promote strong borders and strong national security".

Pressed on whether Mr Trump 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".

Screen grabbed image taken from the Twitter feed of Donald Trump
Screen grabbed image taken from the Twitter feed of Donald Trump (Donald Trump/Twitter/PA)

Elsewhere they caused outrage, with the widower of MP Jo Cox, who was murdered by right-wing extremist Thomas Mair as he shouted "Britain first", saying the postings were "horrific".

Brendan Cox told the BBC: "Almost nothing Trump does surprises us any more. I think this did.

"I think the revulsion that is out there is because the president of our nearest ally is sharing far right hatred, giving them a microphone, and I think people are authentically shocked by that."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the postings were "abhorrent, dangerous and a threat to our society", while the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, urged the president to remove them from his timeline.

"It is deeply disturbing that the president of the United States has chosen to amplify the voice of far-right extremists," the Archbishop said.

I join the urgent call for President @realDonaldTrump to remove his Britain First retweets and make clear his opposition to racism and hatred. https://t.co/JosYO7vwEGpic.twitter.com/v66KQVtWQq

-- Justin Welby ? (@JustinWelby) November 29, 2017

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.

The posts shared by the president appeared to fit a pattern of Britain First re-posting old videos with misleading captions and no information about the date or context.

The first video, which Fransen claimed showed a Muslim migrant attacking a Dutch man on crutches, was also shared by one of Mr Trump's most vocal supporters, conservative commentator Ann Coulter.

The other two videos, which are thought to be from 2013, do not appear in sequence in Fransen's timeline.

Screen grabbed image taken from the Twitter feed of Donald Trump
Screen grabbed image taken from the Twitter feed of Donald Trump (Donald Trump/Twitter/PA)

It is not the first time Mr Trump has re-tweeted posts from controversial Twitter accounts or shared messages from accounts with apparent ties to white nationalist groups.

One example was his sharing of a tweet about "pizzagate", an unfounded conspiracy theory that claims Democrats harboured child sex slaves at a pizza restaurant.

Fransen, from Penge, south-east London, was fined £2,000 at Luton and South Bedfordshire Magistrates' Court in November 2016 for wearing a political uniform and shouting at Sumayyah Sharpe during a "Christian patrol" of Bury Park in Luton on January 23.

She is currently on bail facing trial over four charges of causing religiously aggravated harassment as part of a Kent Police investigation into the distribution of leaflets and the posting of online videos during a trial held at Canterbury Crown Court in May.

She will also appear in court in Northern Ireland in December charged with using threatening and abusive language in connection with a speech she made at an anti-terrorism demonstration in Belfast on August 6.

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