Leak or loose talk? Trump suggests London bomber was ‘in the sights of Scotland Yard’
President’s words labelled ‘unhelpful’ by Theresa May after series of tweets calling for tougher action
THERESA MAY rebuked Donald Trump over the Parsons Green Tube attack after he suggested those responsible had been “in the sights of Scotland Yard”.
Mrs May called the intervention by the US president “unhelpful”, as he appeared to claim Britain needed to be “tougher” and more “proactive” in the fight against terrorism.
The diplomatic row threatened to undermine the special relationship and intelligence sharing arrangements between the UK and US.
Mr Trump, not for the first time, also used the attack to justify his controversial proposed travel ban on people from some predominantly Muslim countries entering the US.
Following a backlash against his comments the president said he would be telephoning Mrs May “right now”.
Summarising that call, a White House spokesman said: “He conveyed his sympathies and prayers for those injured in the terrorist attack in London. The president pledged to continue close collaboration with the United Kingdom to stop attacks worldwide targeting innocent civilians and to combat extremism.”
It was unclear whether Mr Trump had received a briefing before making his claims, in which case he leaked British intelligence, or if he jumped to a conclusion without evidence about who was behind the attack.
In a series of tweets, Mr Trump wrote: “Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!
“Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner. The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off and use better!”
He added: “The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific – but stupidly, that would not be politically correct. We have made more progress in the last nine months against Isis [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] than the Obama Administration has made in eight years. Must be proactive and nasty!”
The timing of Mr Trump’s tweets suggested it was unlikely he had been briefed on British intelligence, and UK security services later said they did not know who was responsible.
After chairing a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergencies committee, Mrs May said it was not “helpful” to speculate on an ongoing investigation, and the police were still working to identify who had carried it out.
In Downing Street, Mrs May said: “I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation. The police and security services are working to discover the full circumstances of this cowardly attack and to identify all those responsible.”
Her comments were echoed by the Metropolitan Police who said the US president’s intervention was “unhelpful” and “pure speculation”.
Later, at the White House, Mr Trump was asked if he had any further reaction to the London attack.
He said: “No, it’s a terrible thing. It just keeps going and going, and we have to be very smart, we have to be very, very tough. Perhaps we are not nearly tough enough.
“But that is just an absolutely terrible thing. In fact, I’m going to call the Prime Minister right now.”
Asked if he had been briefed on the attack he gave an ambiguous answer.
Mr Trump said: “Yes, I have – on numerous things happening, including North Korea. So I’ve been briefed, and I’m going to get right now for the brief- ing.” He did not say whether any briefing had occurred before or after he sent his early morning flurry of tweets.
Mr Trump was speaking outside the White House where Frank Giaccio, an 11-year-old boy, was mowing the lawn after writing to Mr Trump asking if he could.
Writing on Twitter, Nick Timothy, Mrs May’s former chief of staff, said of Mr Trump’s claims: “True or not – and I’m sure he doesn’t know – this is so unhelpful from leader of our ally and intelligence partner.”
Sadiq Khan, the London Mayor with whom Mr Trump has previously clashed, refused to be drawn on the latest intervention. He said: “I’ve simply been too busy this morning to look at my Twitter. My priority is making sure that we do what we can to keep Londoners safe.”
Mr Khan fuelled a row over police cuts, saying London could not be kept safe of the Government continued to cut resources. He said: “London needs more resources to keep our city safe. Since 2010 we’ve lost hundreds of millions of pounds of the police budget, reduced police stations. For a global city like London, we will not be able to keep our citizens safe if the government continues to make the cuts they have been making.”
‘These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!’
‘I’ve been too busy to look at Twitter. My priority is making sure that we do what we can to keep Londoners safe’
An armed British police officer near Parsons Green Tube station in southwest London following the incident on a Tube train, right. President Trump, above, used the incident to support his proposals for a travel ban