Jeremy Hunt backtracks after agreeing with 'sentiment' of a racist Trump retweet
PUBLISHED: 16:30 17 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:28 19 June 2019
Conservative leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt has gone into a flurry of backtracking after saying he "150%" agrees with the "sentiment" of a racist Katie Hopkins tweet that was retweeted by the US president.
In the tweet, Hopkins reacted to tragic stabbings in Wandsworth and Tower Hamlets by tweeting the news and adding: "This is [Sadiq] Khan's Londonistan."
Trump, who has a longstanding feud with Khan, retweeted approvingly, saying: "Khan is a disaster."
At the leadership hustings for political journalists in Westminster, Buzzfeed reporters asked candidates what they made of the tweet.
Fellow leadership hopeful Sajid Javid called the tweet "unbecoming", and said Trump should stay out of the domestic politics of other countries.
During Trump's state visit to the UK, Javid had said that it was "odd" that he had been the only senior cabinet member not invited to a state dinner with the president.
READ: Sajid Javid baffled by Trump state banquet snub
But Jeremy Hunt's reply to the question sparked outrage from his colleague, former Tory Party chair Baroness Warsi.
He told Buzzfeed News: "President Trump has his own style and I wouldn't use those words myself.
"But the sentiment is enormous disappointment that we have a Mayor of London who has completely failed to tackle knife crime and has spent more time on politics than the actual business of making Londoners safer, and in that I 150% agree with the President."
But he had to clarify to Warsi that the term "Londonistan" is offensive after the Baroness had a word with him.
She tweeted: "Ive never shied away from calling out my colleagues for bigotry and racism - however having just spoken to Jeremy Hunt about his comments he has assured me that he abhors Katie Hopkins, her disgusting views and everything she stands for.
"He believes the term Londonistan is offensive and would never endorse sentiments that try and frame Londons knife crime challenge as a racial or religious phenomenon. We should always call out racism but also important to allow people to clarify and judge them accordingly."
Fellow candidate Rory Stewart did not hesitate to condemn the US president's retweet, saying: "I 100% disagree with both the language and the sentiment of the last sentence of this tweet. Can all candidates please confirm the same."
Theresa May's spokesperson has added that would not have retweeted Hopkins' tweet as Trump did.
He said: "The Prime Minister would not retweet Katie Hopkins, nor use that language.
"The Prime Minister agrees with the mayor that knife violence should have no place in London or anywhere else in our country."
Asked whether May watched the leadership hustings on Sunday, the spokesman added "she did not, she was doing box work".
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