Priti Patel has condemned Donald Trump saying his incendiary comments “directly led” to and fuelled violence in the United States after rioters stormed the Capitol building and dozens of arrests were made.
In chaotic scenes, the president’s supporters breached the Senate chamber in Washington DC as politicians were convening to formally certify Joe Biden’s presidential election victory – just 13 days before he enters the White House.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, the home secretary, who described the events as “tragic”, said: “Well, his [Mr Trump’s] comments directly led to the violence and so far he has failed to condemn that violence — that is completely wrong.”
“What we’ve seen in Washington and the display of the violence. He basically has made a number of comments yesterday that helped to fuel that violence and he didn’t do anything to de-escalate that whatsoever.”
She added: “There is no justification for the violence. Donald Trump should have really condemned that violence and he’s failed to do that and I actually think that’s wrong.”
Ms Patels’ came after Boris Johnson described the scenes unfolding in the US Congress on Wednesday evening as “disgraceful”, but did not directly criticise Mr Trump, posting: “The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.”
The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, also said: “The US rightly takes great pride in its democracy, and there can be no justification for these violent attempts to frustrate the lawful and proper transition of power.”
Pressed on whether she had any “respect” for the US president, Ms Patel replied: “This isn’t about respect for an individual. I’ve already said his comments have been associated with that violence.
“He has failed to condemn that violence and I think that is completely wrong. People have died. What we have seen is just so extraordinary.
“There is no justification for it. Clearly there is more he [Trump] could have done and should have done and the fact he has failed to condemn that violence is absolutely wrong.”
In a separate interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Patel declined to say whether she regretted how close the Conservative Party had been to the US president in recent years.
She replied: “America is one of our closest allies in the world and they will continue to be, whoever is at the top in the White House. But the fact of the matter is right now this isn’t about our relationship with Donald Trump.
“They are now transitioning to a new president, to president-elect, the prime minister has already been in touch with Joe Biden and certainly congratulated him. On that basis alone, we move forward with one of our greatest allies in the world. This isn’t about going back and reflecting on personal relationships.”
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, however, said: “The violence that Donald Trump has unleashed is terrifying, and the Republicans who stood by him have blood on their hands. Our spineless prime minister and toadying foreign secretary have to also take their fair share of shame for not calling out his lies after the election.”