By Kunle Adedoyin
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, and President Donald Trump of the United States have been engaging in a war of words as Trump begins his official visit to the United Kingdom just as Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York was brought into the spat.
Trump arrived the UK on Monday for a three-day visit, and was received at Buckingham Palace by Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Charles’ wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
Criticising the visit in an op-ed for the UK Guardian Newspaper, Khan wrote that Trump was an increasing threat to global peace.
“Donald Trump is just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat. The far right is on the rise around the world, threatening our hard-won rights and freedoms and the values that have defined our liberal, democratic societies for more than seventy years,” Khan wrote.
He said Trump and other far-right politicians “are intentionally pitting their own citizens against one another, regardless of the horrific impact in our communities”.
Trump, in his characteristic manner promptly took to Twitter to reply the London Mayor.
“Sadiq Khan who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly ‘nasty’ to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom,” he tweeted.
“He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me. Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job – only half his height.
“In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit.”
On Tuesday, the US President is scheduled to meet with Theresa May, the outgoing British Prime Minister, before travelling on Wednesday to Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, and on to Paris, France.
And promptly Khan’s office rejected Trump’s “childish insults,” and de Blasio, who reportedly stands 1.96 metres tall, tweeted that “Trump is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s twin, only his presidency will be shorter.’’
de Blasio is campaigning for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, potentially pitting him against Trump, a Republican.
“Your values and what you stand for are the complete opposite of London’s values and the values in this country,” Khan, a member of Britain’s main opposition Labour party, said in a later video message to Trump posted on the website of the Elle UK magazine.
“We think diversity’s not a weakness; diversity is a strength,” said Khan, who held a placard with the slogan “Only weak men fear strong women.’’
“We respect women and we think they are equal to men,” he said.
Responding to Trump’s tweets, Labour lawmaker David Lammy, one of Britain’s most prominent black politicians, wrote: “Wonder why you have a problem with London’s first ever Muslim mayor?
“This is a president who insulted London’s mayor after a terror attack,’’ Lammy tweeted.
Prime Minister Theresa May defended Khan after Trump accused him of a “pathetic” response to the London Bridge terrorist attack in June 2017, which left 11 dead and dozens injured.
Khan gave several interviews to British media ahead of Trump’s arrival, writing in Sunday’s Observer newspaper that it was “un-British to roll out the red carpet” for him.
He urged May, who is scheduled to hold talks with Trump on Tuesday, to “issue a powerful rejection, not of the U.S. as a country or the office of the presidency, but of Trump and the far-right agenda he embodies.’’
Labour’s left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would not attend a state banquet for Trump.
“The government should not be rolling out the red carpet for a president who rips up vital international treaties, backs climate change denial and uses racist and misogynist rhetoric.’
“Tomorrow’s protest against Donald Trump’s state visit is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with those he’s attacked in America, around the world and in our own country, including, just this morning, @SadiqKhan,’’ Corbyn tweeted.
Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to join a “Together against Trump’’ march through central London on Tuesday.