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UK politics: Labour calls Johnson 'spineless' over Trump as Patel says US president provoked violence – live


Good morning. Mostly we will be focusing on Covid today, but this morning the UK news has been dominated by reaction to what has been happening in Washington – which is being covered in full our US Politics Live blog – and the debate about whether or not Boris Johnson and his ministers are being sufficiently critical of Donald Trump. British prime ministers always like to preserve good relations with their US counterparts, but Trump is one of the few world leaders who actually thought Brexit was a good idea and in the past Johnson and some of his ministers have praised him in terms that go beyond the merely diplomatic and polite.

Last night Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said that Johnson had been “spineless”, particularly because of his failure to “call out” Trump’s lies about the US presidential election being rigged.

Angela Rayner 😷
(@AngelaRayner)

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. https://t.co/pejDqWoAp4


January 6, 2021

Johnson, who has always accepted that Joe Biden won the election, but who has declined to explicitly condemn Trump’s failure to accept the result, posted this on Twitter last night.

Boris Johnson
(@BorisJohnson)

Disgraceful scenes in U.S. Congress. 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.


January 6, 2021

This morning Priti Patel, the home secretary, was doing the morning interview round for No 10 and – unlike Johnson in his tweet last night – she did directly blame Trump (at least in part) for what happened in Washington yesterday. She said:


[Trump’s] comments directly led to the violence and so far he has failed to condemn that violence and that is completely wrong. 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.

But she would not accept the charge that British ministers had got too close to the outgoing president, and she said it was more important to look to the future. She told the Today programme:


The fact of the matter is, they are now transitioning to a new president, to a president-elect. The prime minister has already been in touch with Joe Biden and certainly congratulated him. I think 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. The fact of the matter is: Donald Trump’s words were associated with violence, his comments directly led to violence. And so far, he has failed to condemn that violence, and that is wrong.

I will post more on this row this morning, although over the course of the day mostly the blog will be focusing on coronavirus.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: The ONS publishes a report on the impact of coronavirus on the economy.

11am: NHS test and trace performance figures are published.

12.15pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, holds a coronavirus briefing.

2.30pm: Matt Hancock, the health secretary, gives evidence to the Commons health committee.

5pm: Downing Street is expected to hold a press conference.

Here is our global coronavirus live blog.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.





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