The Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been severely criticised after appearing to endorse a tweet from the almost universally despised far-right rent-a-gob Katie Hopkins which describes the UK capital as “[Sadiq] Khan’s Londonistan“.
On Saturday, Hopkins posted a tweet claiming that 6 people had been stabbed in London within a 20 hour period, before going on to blame the London Mayor for the problem and describing the capital as “Khan’s Londonistan“.
Following this, the US President Donald Trump quote-tweeted her, adding his own comment labelling Khan as a “disaster” and saying “LONDON needs a new mayor“.
LONDON needs a new mayor ASAP. Khan is a disaster – will only get worse! https://t.co/n7qKI3BbD2
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2019
However, when asked about Trump’s endorsement of Hopkins’ Londonistan tweet at a Tory leadership hustings today, only 3 out of the 5 candidates criticised it.
Sajid Javid described Trump’s tweet as “unbecoming” of a US President and said he should “stick to domestic politics“; Dominic Raab said it was neither “helpful or constructive” and that he was “proud to have a Muslim mayor of London“; whilst Michael Gove said “I think it’s a mistake to retweet anything Katie Hopkins tweets“.
However, Rory Stewart refused to criticise Trump, saying that he had always been “a diplomat“, whilst the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt took a completely different line, appearing to actively endorse it, stating that whilst he “wouldn’t use those words myself” he “150%” agreed with Trump’s attack on Sadiq Khan:
“President Trump has his own style and I wouldn’t use those words myself but the sentiment is enormously supported, that we have a mayor of London who is completely failing to tackle knife crime and has spent more time on politics than the business of making London safer, in that I 150% agree with the President”.
Following the hustings, Rory Stewart urged Hunt to clarify that he did not agree with the vile language contained in Hopkins’ tweet:
I 100% disagree with both the language and the sentiment of the last sentence of this tweet. Can all candidates please confirm the same https://t.co/cx6gapQExQ
— Rory Stewart (@RoryStewartUK) June 17, 2019
However, Hunt has not yet responded.
Responding to Hunt’s apparent endorsement of clear racism, the Muslim Council of Britain said:
“When facing Islamophobia, many Muslims are most hurt when others stand by and do nothing. Trump’s endorsement of a bigot has nothing to do with the rising knife crime that we all are concerned about and everything to do with his divisive agenda.”
“For Downing Street to refuse to comment and our Foreign Secretary and potentially future Prime Minister to agree with the “sentiment” of this known Islamophobe without condemning the clear bigoted intent behind it, is shocking.”
“It is still further proof that Islamophobia is given a free pass at the highest echelons of the Conservative Party.”
Unsurprisingly, Hunt’s words have sparked a significant backlash, with some even suggesting he should be booted out of the party.
Jeremy Hunt has “150%” endorsed tweets using the racist phrase “Khan’s Londonistan”.
Can you tell us what action you’ll be taking against him? https://t.co/PUhldIMGrr
— MatesJacob (@MatesJacob) June 17, 2019
Jeremy Hunt there agreeing with Katie H*pkins in a tweet saying "Londonistan". This is disgusting. https://t.co/noIPLQ4JV4
— Kat Stark (@rantingkat) June 17, 2019
Hunt 100% agrees with the sentiment of a tweet by Katie Hopkins in which London was described as "Londonistan". I see https://t.co/YEBIOlQBVU
— Alan White (@aljwhite) June 17, 2019
.@Jeremy_Hunt risks losing important supporters for saying he 150% agrees with "sentiment" of @realDonaldTrump – which Hunt sees as concern about knife crime in London – when asked his view on US president retweeting Hopkins' "Khan's Londonistan" tweet, which many view as toxic
— Robert Peston (@Peston) June 17, 2019
Following the backlash, Sayeeda Warsi, the first Muslim to become a Cabinet member and an outspoken critic of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party, said that Hunt had now backtracked on his statement in a private conversation with her:
Ive never shied away from calling out my colleagues for bigotry and racism- however having just spoken to @Jeremy_Hunt about his comments he has assured me that he abhors Katie Hopkins, her disgusting views and everything she stands for 1/2 @aljwhite @ChrisMasonBBC @alexwickham https://t.co/eDvVVXt2WZ
— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) June 17, 2019
He believes the the term Londonistan is offensive and would never endorse sentiments that try and frame Londons knife crime challenge as a racial or religious phenomenon.
We should always call out racism but also important to allow people to clarify and judge them accordingly 2/2
— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) June 17, 2019