Minister Sam Gyimah 'deeply uncomfortable' with Trump visit

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A UK government minister has said he is “deeply uncomfortable” about the prospect of Donald Trump’s state visit, amid controversy over his tweets.

Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said on BBC One’s Question Time the US President would be “divisive at a time when we are trying to unite our country”.

Mr Trump’s decision to retweet posts from a far-right group has prompted calls to scrap the planned visit.

Theresa May has criticised the tweets but rejected calls to cancel.

She said retweeting from Britain First was “the wrong thing to do“.

The prospect of Mr Trump’s visit – which would see him being hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle – was first raised by Theresa May in January 2017, soon after the president took office.

No date for the visit has been set. It is at the invitation of the Queen.

The Question Time panel, made up of Conservative MP Mr Gyimah, Labour’s Chuka Umunna, UKIP leader Henry Bolton, Economist Yanis Varoufakis and journalist Sarah Baxter, were critical of Mr Trump’s retweets.

But they were split over whether the visit should be cancelled.

‘Stand up to your friends’

Mr Gyimah, a junior minister, said it was “above my pay grade in terms of what happens” but he thought the US president had “definitely crossed a line”.

He said: “In terms of whether or not Donald Trump comes to this country, I am personally deeply uncomfortable about it.

“I am deeply uncomfortable because he is deliberately divisive, and this would be divisive at a time when we are trying to unite our country.”

But he praised the prime minister for her “rebuke” of Mr Trump, saying: “It takes great bravery to stand up to your enemies, it takes even more bravery to stand up to your friends.”

Meanwhile White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders has said she does not believe Mr Trump knew who Jayda Fransen – the deputy leader of Britain First – was when he retweeted her posts.

Mr Trump has responded on Twitter to Mrs May’s criticism, saying: “Don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!”

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