As Donald Trump escalated his Twitter campaign against London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Monday, Khan appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain this morning and was asked by co-host Piers Morgan about the Trump situation, implying the U.S. President and Mayor were “at war with each other.”
“Let’s not overdo it,” said Khan this morning. “I’m not at war with Donald Trump. I’ve been clear that we have a special relationship with the USA and it’s very important that we have a close relationship with the U.S. President whoever he is…It’s really important that we work closely with our closest allies and whenever we’ve had problems in the past, the USA has come to our help. One of the things about having close mates and having a special relationship is to not just stand with them in adversity but call them out when they are wrong.”
He added: “Look, it takes two to tango and I am not tangoing with this guy. I’ve got better things to do.”
In the wake of the deadly terror attacks in London Bridge and Borough Market on Saturday night which took the lives of seven people and injured 48, Trump lashed out at Khan for telling Londoners there was “no reason to be alarmed.” But the president had misconstrued Khan’s original statement which was to tell citizens not to be alarmed by an extra police presence across the next few days.
Trump on Monday fired up his Twitter account again, saying it was a “pathetic excuse” from the Muslim mayor.
Speaking to Channel 4 News last night, Khan suggested a state visit by the U.S. President should be cancelled. “I don’t think we should be rolling out the red carpet to the President of the USA in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for,” Khan said.
After it was announced that Trump would visit the UK later this year, nearly 2M people signed an online petition in the UK calling for it be cancelled. The Guardian notes that Khan himself said Trump shouldn’t be allowed to come to London until he revoked his proposed travel ban on people from six predominantly Muslim countries. Trump has used the London attacks this weekend as a new platform to push through the ban, referencing it on Twitter in the wake of the violence.
Asked on C4 what he thinks Trump has against him, Khan said, “Since Saturday I’ve been working with the police, with the emergency services, with the government and others to deal with the horrific attacks… I just don’t have the time to respond to tweets from Donald Trump.”
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday denied that Trump was picking a fight with Khan. Asked why the president had misquoted the mayor, she said, “I don’t think that’s actually true. I think the media wants to spin it that way. The point is there is a reason to be alarmed. We have constant attacks going on not just there but across the globe.” She added that the suggestion that the president was criticizing Khan because he is Muslim is “utterly ridiculous.”
Also chiming in this morning, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he sees no reason to cancel Trump’s visit. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Johnson backed Khan, but said, “The invitation has been issued and accepted and I see no reason to change that… I don’t wish to enter into a row between those two individuals who are able to stick up for themselves, if I know them both.” However, he added, “Sadiq, as Mayor of London, was perfectly right to reassure the public about the presence of armed officers on the street.”
Meanwhile, one of the men responsible for Saturday’s attack is believed to have appeared in Channel 4 documentary The Jihadis Next Door last year. Khuram Butt, identified by the Met Police as one of the perpetrators, was known to the police and MI5.
Today the UK held a minute of silence across the country for the victims of the London Bridge terror attack. All flags on government buildings will fly at half-mast until this evening.