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Theresa May faced fresh calls to postpone a State visit to Britain for Donald Trump after he sparked global outrage by again blaming anti-fascist protestors as well as white supremacists for deadly violence.
MPs urged the Prime Minister to delay the invitation as the US president also came under fire from senior Republicans and Democrats over his response to the unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left a woman dead.
Two Government ministers also criticised the president over his comments made in an extraordinary, free-wheeling press conference at Trump Towers.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: “Neo-Nazis: bad, Anti-Nazis: good, I learned that as a child. It was pretty obvious.”
While Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah stressed: “Words matter. Silence matters. We must call out hate – unambiguously – to preserve the free & tolerant society many have fought & die for.
“The ‘leader of the free world’ loses moral authority when he cannot call fascism by its name.”
Mr Trump was hit with the furious backlash after he appeared yesterday to equate the actions of Swastika-waving Far-right demonstrators with those protesting against them.
During ill-tempered exchanges with reporters at Trump Tower, the president said “there is blame on both sides” following the violence.
Clashes erupted after a group of Far-right extremists gathered to protest a decision to remove a statue of General Robert E Lee, who commanded the pro-slavery Confederate forces during the American Civil War.
Heather Heyer, 32, later died after a car driven by a white nationalist rammed into crowds as anti-fascist demonstrators confronted the white supremacists.
Mr Trump faced heavy criticism in the immediate wake of the unrest after initially saying there was blame on “many sides”.
In a carefully-scripted White House statement on Monday, he eventually branded the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists as “repugnant to everything that we hold dear as Americans”.
But during a bizarre press conference at his Manhattan residence yesterday the president appeared to revert to his original position.
He acknowledged there were “some very bad people” among the statue removal protesters, but added: “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides”.
He stressed: “What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right?” he added. “Do they have any semblance of guilt?”
However, his stance was swiftly condemned by Republican Speaker Paul Ryan who tweeted: “We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.”
Former Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio stressed: “The organisers of events which inspired & led to #charlottesvilleterroristattack are 100% to blame.”
While Republican senator John McCain added: “There’s no moral equivalency between racists and Americans standing up to defy hate and bigotry. The President of the United States should say so.”
Mr Trump won support from David Duke, former leader of the Klu Klux Klan who tweeted: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.”
The global anger, though, was highlighted by a tweet by his predecessor Barack Obama becoming the most liked ever.
Citing Nelson Mandela, he wrote: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…”
It was liked more than three million times by this morning, beating the previous record, of over 2.7 million, which was for a tweet from pop star Ariana Grande telling fans that she was “broken” after the Manchester bombing.
In the UK a number of MPs called for Mrs May’s offer of a visit with state honours for Mr Trump to be postponed.
Senior Conservative MP Bob Neill said: “The sensible thing for the Prime Minister to do is just put it on the backburner especially after his measly-mouthed response to white racism in Charlottesville.”
Mr Trump’s State visit was expected to take place in the autumn but has already been put back until next year and may even be delayed until 2019.
Referring to a visa questionnaire given to tourists visiting America, MP for Rhondda Chris Bryant said: “May cd rescue smidgen of moral authority now by rescinding Trump invite. After all US immigration ask ‘are u or have u ever been a Nazi?”’
While Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable branded Mr Trump’s comments “disgusting”, adding: “Why is the Prime Minister still offering to roll out the red carpet for him with a state visit?”
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