A television news presenter has rolled her eyes after foreign secretary Dominic Raab gave an “astonishing” defence of Donald Trump’s approach to the US election result.
The minister said that “in principle, yes, of course” all votes should be counted in a democratic election, having failed to make such a statement when Trump had been calling for states to stop counting mail-in ballots last week.
Defending his own congratulatory tweet for saying there were “processes still playing out”, the former Brexit secretary said it was “right to tread carefully and sensitively” after a fraught election but stated there had been a “definitive result”.
Appearing on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday, he explained: “It’s a statement of fact that we haven’t had the formal statement by the Electoral College, and of course, there’ll be appeals going on and I make no apologies as foreign secretary for treading very sensitively and carefully whilst we waited for the clarity of the result.
“We’ve got that clarity and we offer the new administration, president-elect Biden and vice president-elect Harris, our full support, and we look forward to working with them in the future.
“But I think it’s right that we’re careful to respect the sensitivities, and indeed the integrity of the US process. That’s incumbent on me as foreign secretary.”
But presenter Ridge said she found the response “astonishing”. She told him: “The question is, do you think all votes should be counted in a democratic election? I find it astonishing there’s not an answer to that.”
Explaining what he meant, he said: “We know for example there’s going to be recounts. We know that in relation to some of the states, we know in relation to some of the Senate seats.
“But we can also say that the result is clear now, I don’t think that’s pre-empting those other processes, which is exactly why I said we should tread sensitively to respect the integrity of the process.
“I’ve been very clear we were very confident the checks and balances in the US system that will produce a definitive result, and I think we’ve got one now.”
Ridge, however, continued with her line of questioning. “I’m not asking of appeals, I’m not asking about checks and balances, I’m just literally saying should all votes be counted in a democratic election?”
Raab replied “in principle, yes, of course”, leading to Ridge to ask why he did not say that in the first place.
“Because what you’re really trying to do is to drag me into the legal claims about whether or not all the votes have properly been counted when you look at the mail votes, the votes in person and the claims that have been made, for example, about the posting of military ballots – so I just don’t want to get sucked into that.”
The presenter pointed out she was asking as Boris Johnson’s own spokesperson also sidestepped the question earlier in the week.
Raab’s comments provoked a backlash on Twitter.
Comedian David Schneider wrote: “Welcome to the UK where Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, can’t even say that all votes should be counted in a democratic election.”
A second tweeted: “Raab couldn’t even answer the basic question when asked by Ridge ‘should every vote be counted?’ his answer – ‘not getting into that’ just shows the measure of the man.”
Steven Reilly-Hii said: “Firstly – shocking answer from Raab to a very basic question from Sophy Ridge about the principle of democracy. Secondly – what message is the foreign secretary sending to president Biden and team in labouring an answer to this question?”