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Trump bashes London mayor as ‘stone cold loser’

President Donald Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom this week comes after he canceled plans to travel to London in January of last year to open the new U.S. embassy there. | Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Foreign Policy

The president started his UK trip by reviving an old feud.

Updated

President Donald Trump on Monday returned to a public spat with London Mayor Sadiq Khan, blasting the mayor as a “stone cold loser” just moments before touching down in the United Kingdom, where he will be feted with a state dinner at Buckingham Palace.

“.@SadiqKhan, 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 is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me,” Trump wrote in a tweet. In a follow-up, Trump height-shamed Khan, comparing the London mayor to his New York counterpart and 2020 presidential candidate Bill de Blasio, who he called “very dumb and incompetent.”

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“In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit. Landing now!” Trump added.

Trump and Khan, London’s first Muslim mayor, have traded barbs previously, particularly over Khan’s handling of terror attacks and Trump’s past comments disparaging practitioners of Islam. The president’s online outburst appeared to be a response to a Guardian op-ed from the weekend in which Khan declared Trump “one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat,” the far right.

In the op-ed, Khan urged outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May “to issue a powerful rejection – not of the US as a country or the office of the presidency, but of Trump and the far-right agenda he embodies,” calling the president’s views “incompatible with British values.”

Asked as he departed the White House on Sunday if he would be willing to meet with Khan, Trump rejected the idea.

“No, I don’t think much of him,” he said, according to a pool report, again comparing Khan to the New York mayor, who last month announced a 2020 presidential campaign. “I think he’s — he’s the twin of de Blasio, except shorter.”

Upon touching down in London, Trump made mention of his spat with Khan to British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Hunt, who was among those who greeted Trump on the tarmac, told BBC News that Trump told him of “some of his very strong views about the mayor of London,” calling the president’s comments consistent with what he’d tweeted.

Hunt defended Trump in interviews Monday, telling the U.K.’s Channel 4 News that the president was likely angry about boycotts urged by Khan and other Labour Party leaders — which he called “pure virtue signaling” — and that Trump merely “says what he thinks.”

Trump’s visit this week comes after he canceled plans to travel to London in January of last year to open the new U.S. embassy there, a decision Trump said he made over objections to the embassy’s move. The president slammed the decision to relocate the embassy, blaming former President Barack Obama for the move even though the process had been initiated by Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush.

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Trump’s scrapped trip to London came amid reports of massive planned protests against his policies. At the time, Khan cheered Trump’s nixed plans, writing that it appeared Trump “finally got the message” that he’s not welcome in London.

The president did travel to the UK last summer, mostly steering clear of London and meeting with May at Chequers, the British prime minister’s country retreat.

Trump’s tweet Monday also alluded to a controversy over the weekend in which he denied calling American actress-turned-Duchess Meghan Markle “nasty,” despite there being audio of him saying just that. He is set to dine with the royal family Monday afternoon, but Markle, who gave birth last month, is not expected during the week’s ceremonies.

The unusually chilly relationship between allies also comes as the British government is in turmoil, with May announcing her forthcoming resignation last month over her inability to construct a Brexit deal that the British parliament would ratify.

Upon landing Monday, Trump also took a shot at CNN, the network whose coverage he has often complained is unfair to his administration, venting that the network “is the primary source of news available from the U.S.” and writing that he had to turn the channel off. He went on to suggest that the network’s parent company, AT&T, “do something” about CNN’s coverage.

“All negative & so much Fake News, very bad for U.S. Big ratings drop,” he wrote.

De Blasio shot back at Trump for his tweet, writing that he welcomed the comparison with Khan and employing the nickname he has sought to stick to the president.

“#ConDon takes another shot at me. But I’m a total @SadiqKhan stan, so consider any comparison a compliment,” he wrote, adding that he would much rather be compared to Khan than to former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the pro-Brexit politician whom some have compared to Trump.

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