Donald Trump has apologised for retweeting videos that were posted online by Britain First, and said that he did so because he is a “big believer in fighting radical Islamic terror”. [SCROLL TO BOTTOM FOR VIDEO]
In an interview on ITV with Piers Morgan, the US President said: “If you are telling me they’re horrible people, horrible racist people, I would certainly apologise if you’d like me to do that.”
The 71 year old President of the United States was speaking to the journalist and presenter in Davos, Switzerland, after he landed himself in hot water with a lot of people around the world for retweeting three clips from the far-right group, which purportedly showed “anti-Muslim” propaganda.
The clips were initially posted online by Britain First’s deputy leader Jayda Fransen – who has been convicted of hate crimes and who also served as its acting leader for six months when Paul Golding was imprisoned in December 2016.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May also publically condemned the President for his actions.
Speaking with Piers Morgan in an interview that was aired on Good Morning Britain, the President, who also met Mrs May at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday, said: “I know nothing about them and I know nothing about them today. Other than I read a little bit.
“I guess, again I’m in the United States, so I didn’t read as much about it, perhaps it was a big story in Britain, perhaps it was a bit story in the UK.
“But in the United States it wasn’t a big story. I did a retweet. When you do your own tweeting, or you do your own social media, it’s fine.
“When you do those retweets it can cause problems, because you never know who’s doing it to start off with.
“I don’t know who they are, I know nothing about them, so I wouldn’t be doing that. I am, as I say often, the least racist person that anybody’s going to meet.
“Certainly I wasn’t endorsing anybody. I knew nothing about them. They had I guess a couple of depictions of radical Islamic terror.
“Radical Islamic terror, whether you like talking about it or not Piers, it’s a fact.
“You look at what’s going on in UK and you look at what’s going on all over the world, you can try and shield it.”
Taking into account the amount of offense that the videos, as well as Britain First, have courted, President Trump was then asked if he regrets retweeting the hateful videos.
He added: “Look, it was done because I am a big believer in fighting radical Islamic terror. This was a depiction of radical Islamic terror.
“Here’s what’s fair, if you’re telling me they’re horrible people, horrible racist people I would certainly apologise if you would like me to do that.
“I know nothing about them. I don’t want to be involved with [these] people, but you’re telling me about these people because I know nothing about these people.”
There was, however, an immediate sense of opposition to his statements, as such wondered whether his mixture of self-justification and humility in not knowing about Britain First amounted to genuine remorse at a mistake or more of a “non-apology” so to speak.
Brendan Cox, whose Labour MP wife Jo was murdered by a far-right extremist who shouted “Britain first” as he carried out the atrocity, gave a qualified welcome to the President’s words of regret.
He tweeted “Well done to @piersmorgan for pushing for an apology, not many have succeeded in getting one…though given Trump’s track-record of attacking Muslims, migrants and Mexicans it’s hard to take him seriously”.
Tracy Brabin, the MP who succeeded Jo Cox, said his apology did not go far enough.
“As the MP for Batley & Spen, a community whose MP was murdered by someone holding similar views to those you endorsed, we’d like to hear that apology,” she urged Mr Trump in a tweet.
David Lammy, the Tottenham MP, dismissed the President’s words, saying: “Trump is clearly not remorseful about promoting a far-right, extremist hate group, as his non-apology demonstrates. I am totally opposed to him visiting the UK.”
Responding to suggestions that some figures in the UK would like him to be banned from visiting the country, Trump said: “I hadn’t heard about banning, I think a lot of the people in your country like what I stand for, they respect what I stand for and I do stand for tough borders.”
Asked what he thought of attacks from his British critics, he said:
“I don’t care. I don’t care. It’s just one of those things.”
I don’t say anything. You know why? I don’t care.”
He added: “The real me is somebody that loves Britain, loves the UK. I love Scotland.
“One of the biggest problems I have in winning (the presidency), I won’t be able to get back there so often. I would love to go there.
“As you know, before this happened, I would be there a lot. Very special people and a very special place. I don’t want to cause any difficulty for your country, that I can tell you.”
Morgan spoke following the interview and said it was a “significant climb down by the President”.
He said: “I think it is significant. A lot of the antagonism I think from people in Britain towards Donald Trump was dramatically fuelled by retweeting one of the leaders of Britain First.
“Donald Trump made it clear to me that when he did these retweets he had no idea who this person was, he had no idea who Britain First was.
“He just thought that the videos, which to him depicted ISIS-like behaviour deserved a retweeted. I questioned him on that.
“I think it was right and proper that he, now he was made aware – and I made him very clearly aware that these are racist, fascist people – that he should apologise and he said look, if they are these people you tell me they are then I would certainly apologise.
“I think that is a significant climb down by the President. I thought it was an interesting exchange, I don’t think he really wanted to go to the point of apology. But I kept pushing him and eventually we did get there.
“The reality is, he has apologised and he has said ‘I didn’t know who these people were’.”