The mayors of London and New York slammed US President Donald Trump on Monday, joining a Twitter spat after he opened a visit to Britain by calling them “dumb and incompetent.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s office rejected Trump’s “childish insults,” after the US leader called him a “loser” and told US media that Khan was “the twin of [New York City mayor Bill] de Blasio except shorter.”
De Blasio, who reportedly stands 1.96 metres tall, tweeted that “Trump is [US President Vladimir] Putin’s twin, only his presidency will be shorter.”
He is campaigning for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 US presidential election, potentially pitting him against Trump.
Tweeting around the time of touchdown at London’s Stansted Airport, Trump, who has had previous Twitter feuds with Khan, called him “a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me.”
“[Khan] reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent mayor of NYC de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job – only half his height,” he said.
“Your values and what you stand for are the complete opposite of London’s values and the values in this country,” Khan, a member of Britain’s main opposition Labour party, said in a later video message to Trump posted on the website of the Elle UK magazine.
“We think diversity’s not a weakness; diversity is a strength,” said Khan, who held a placard with the slogan “Only weak men fear strong women.”
“We respect women and we think they are equal to men,” he said.
Responding to Trump’s tweets, Labour lawmaker David Lammy, one of Britain’s most prominent black politicians, wrote: “Wonder why you have a problem with London’s first ever Muslim mayor?”
“This is a president who insulted London’s mayor after a terror attack,” Lammy tweeted.
Prime Minister Theresa May defended Khan after Trump accused him of a “pathetic” response to the London Bridge terrorist attack in June 2017, which left 11 dead and dozens injured.
Khan gave several interviews to British media ahead of Trump’s arrival, writing in Sunday’s Observer newspaper that it was “un-British to roll out the red carpet” for him.
He urged May, who is scheduled to hold talks with Trump on Tuesday, to “issue a powerful rejection – not of the US as a country or the office of the presidency, but of Trump and the far-right agenda he embodies.”
Labour’s left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would not attend a state banquet for Trump late Monday because the government “should not be rolling out the red carpet for… a president who rips up vital international treaties, backs climate change denial and uses racist and misogynist rhetoric.”
“Tomorrow’s protest against Donald Trump’s state visit is an opportunity to stand in solidarity with those he’s attacked in America, around the world and in our own country – including, just this morning, @SadiqKhan,” Corbyn tweeted.
Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to join a Together Against Trump march through central London on Tuesday.