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US not Britain’s most important relationship, says Jeremy Corbyn

Mr Trump cancelled a visit to open the new US embassy.


(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Jeremy Corbyn has distanced himself from the so-called “special relationship”, saying the US is not Britain’s most important relationship with another country.

The Labour leader said the UK had to maintain many important relationships around the world, as he hit out at “endless offensive remarks” by Donald Trump about women, minorities and different faiths.

His comments came as Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, called the US president “a danger” and “a racist”.

However, Tory Party chairman Brandon Lewis said it was right that an invitation for a state visit had been extended to President Trump, saying Britain should be developing its relationship with the US.

Mr Corbyn, appearing on ITV’s Peston On Sunday, was asked if Britain’s relationship with the US was the most important relationship it has with another country.

The Labour leader replied: “No. I think there are many important relationships.

“The US one is obviously culturally and economically significant and important.

“Also the trading relationships we have around the world with obviously the EU, but also with India and China and the rest of the world are very important.

“Also our relationship with international institutions such as the United Nations is very important.

“The biggest disappointment of Donald Trump is, apart from his endless offensive remarks about women, about minorities and about different faiths, is his failure to support international institutions like the United Nations and like Unesco.”

Mr Corbyn did acknowledge that having a relationship with and influence over the US was important “because it is such a huge military and economic power around the world”.

He added: “I’m not sure that anyone has succeeded in defining the special relationship.

“I’ve asked about the special relationship and I was told once, by a former prime minister, I won’t name the person, that if they specified what the special relationship was, it wouldn’t be a special relationship.”

This week President Trump said he was cancelling a proposed visit to open the new US embassy in London, saying the new embassy was a “bad deal”.

However, reports have suggested he called off his trip because he felt he had “not been shown enough love” by the British Government.

“He’s going to come at some point, I suppose,” said Mr Corbyn.

“He is the president of the United States, he will come at some point and no doubt there will be robust discussions with him.”

Ms Thornberry, meanwhile, told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show that Theresa May had humiliated the Queen with the controversy over inviting President Trump to the UK.

“I don’t want him to come to the country. I don’t think that he should have been given an invitation in the way that he was,” Ms Thornberry said.

“That it was wrong for Theresa May to so prematurely give him a state visit.

“I think that it embarrasses the Queen. I think that it is humiliation for her. I think it is wrong to have brought her into this in this way.

“It is very difficult once an invitation for a state visit has been made to withdraw it. Only the Queen can withdraw it and I don’t want to put her in that embarrassing position.”

Ms Thornberry was scathing about the US president following reports he had branded Haiti and some African states “shithole” countries.

“He is an asteroid of awfulness that has fallen on this world. I think that he is a danger and I think that he is a racist.”

However, Mr Lewis told Marr that it did not help Britain when senior politicians made the sort of comments made by Labour’s London mayor Sadiq Khan, who has also been critical of the US president.

Mr Lewis added: “What I find slightly odd, and Emily was on just now, is of course Emily on this show less than a year ago said that he should be coming.

“I think it is right that the president of the United States has a welcome to the United Kingdom.

“It’s a very important relationship for us and one that we should be looking to develop in the future for the benefit of all our residents, and of course our industry, businesses and security relationship.”