PM calls for ‘peaceful’ transition of power in US after violent protests

The Prime Minister has called for a “peaceful and orderly transfer of power” in the United States after violent protesters stormed the Capitol and interrupted politicians’ formal approval of Joe Biden’s presidential election win.

In chaotic scenes, supporters of President Donald Trump breached barricades and staged an occupation of the building in Washington DC on Wednesday.

Protesters clashed with police, tear gas was dispersed and one woman later died after being shot inside the US Capitol.

Demonstrators forced their way inside after a rally was held near the White House where Mr Trump encouraged them to march on Capitol Hill.

Boris Johnson labelled the scenes as “disgraceful”.

He tweeted: “The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.”

His comments followed condemnation from a host of British politicians from all parties who described the scenes in Washington as “profoundly shocking” and “utterly horrifying”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called them “horrendous”, tweeting: “These are not ‘protesters’ – this a direct attack on democracy and legislators carrying out the will of the American people.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “The US rightly takes great pride in its democracy, and there can be no justification for these violent attempts to frustrate the lawful and proper transition of power.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that the scenes were “utterly horrifying”, adding: “Solidarity with those in (the United States) on the side of democracy and the peaceful and constitutional transfer of power. Shame on those who have incited this attack on democracy.”

Meanwhile, the Twitter account of Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, asked that people “pray for the USA” and Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted that “the outcome of this democratic election must be respected”.

Mr Trump previously urged his supporters to travel to Washington to protest against Congress’ approval of Mr Biden’s November presidential election victory.

As protesters attacked the Capitol, both chambers of Congress were forced into recess as they debated the Electoral College vote that handed Mr Biden the presidency.

Mr Trump initially tweeted to ask his supporters to “remain peaceful” before posting a video asking protesters to “go home”.

But he also used the video to claim that the election was “fraudulent” and that he feels supporters’ “pain”.

Twitter removed the retweet, like and reply functions on the video post “due to a risk of violence”, before locking his account and demanding the removal of the clip and two other posts.

Politicians were told by police to put on gas masks after tear gas was released in the Capitol’s Rotunda amid skirmishes.

Senators were evacuated, with other politicians tweeting that they were taking shelter in their offices.

Law enforcement officials later said an explosive device found near the building was “no longer a threat”.

Following the deployment of heavily armed police, the Capitol complex was later declared “secure”.

Washington DC police chief Robert Contee, calling the violence “a riot”, said at least five weapons were recovered and at least 13 people arrested over the protests.

A 6pm curfew was also declared.

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