Politics

UK political leaders condemn violence at US Capitol


Boris Johnson has joined Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP in condemning the chaotic scenes in Washington DC that saw Donald Trump supporters storming the US Capitol.

While the crowd that broke through barricades to roam through the building had been whipped up by a speech from Trump earlier, Johnson’s brief comment did not mention the US president or his role.

“Disgraceful scenes in US Congress,” the prime minister tweeted. “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.”

The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said: “The US rightly takes great pride in its democracy, and there can be no justification for these violent attempts to frustrate the lawful and proper transition of power.”

The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, said: “In any democracy the peaceful transition of power is just as important as the vote itself. There is no excuse for the deplorable scenes coming from the US Capitol today.”

Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, denounced what she called “terrible scenes”, which saw a mob of protesters run amok in the building where the Senate and House of Representatives meet.

“This is the legacy of a politics of hate that pits people against each other and threatens the foundations of democracy,” the Labour MP said. “We must stand firm with legislators under attack and the American people, who have the right to choose their own destiny.”

Nigel Farage, the Brexit party leader and a key UK ally of Trump, condemned the invasion, but not the president, tweeting: “Storming Capitol Hill is wrong. The protesters must leave.”

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Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, also tweeted a non-specific condemnation, saying: “Terrible scenes at US Congress today. To our great friends in the US, we have always admired your peaceful transfers of power and the graceful acceptance by candidates of both electoral victory and defeat. Those who seek to undermine this must never prevail.”

The incursion of the crowd, whipped up by Trump’s insistence, without evidence, that November’s presidential election was marred by voter fraud, forced the Senate and the House of Representatives into recess amid a debate over the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader and Scottish first minister, tweeted that events in the Capitol were “utterly horrifying”. She wrote: “Solidarity with those in on the side of democracy and the peaceful and constitutional transfer of power. Shame on those who have incited this attack on democracy.”

Layla Moran, the Lib Dems’ foreign affairs spokeswoman, said: “The scenes coming out of Washington tonight are an attack on democracy. Liberal Democrats call on Boris Johnson to condemn the violent actions of President Trump’s supporters breaking into the Capitol. An attack on democracy anywhere is an attack on democracy everywhere.”

Some Conservative MPs also spoke out, among them Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary, whom Johnson defeated to win the Conservative leadership. “America is the world’s biggest, most important democracy, a shining light on the hill for freedom,” he wrote in a tweet.

“Pres Trump told a crowd to march on Capitol Hill & turned on his VP [Mike Pence] for upholding the law. He shames American democracy tonight & causes its friends anguishK politic but he is not America.”

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