(CNSNews.com) – On the eve of President Trump’s visit to London, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday accused the man he hopes to unseat as Britain’s prime minister of being “the world’s leading sycophant” towards the American president.
In a speech in York, Corbyn declared that Britain needs a foreign policy that was “free from a knee-jerk subservience to another administration which doesn’t accept our values.”
(In the prepared version of the speech, posted to Labour’s website, Corbyn was more direct, saying “… free from a knee-jerk subservience to a U.S. administration which repudiates our values.”)
Corbyn also slightly tempered his words elsewhere in the speech, where he listed several troubling policies which he attributes to the Trump administration.
“From climate change denial to unconditional support for Israel’s far right, from racism to confrontation with China, too many times we’re being taken on a dangerous path by this process,” he said.
(In the prepared remarks, Corbyn was explicit in his accusation: “From climate change denial to unconditional support for Israel’s far right, from racism to confrontation with China, Trump is taking the world on a dangerous path.”)
He made no on-the-spot changes to his assessment about Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s relationship to the American president, however.
“Real security requires calmly making the right calls at moments of high pressure, often against the grain of conventional wisdom,” Corbyn said. “That requires the courage and strength to chart an independent course when we think our friends and allies are doing the wrong thing.”
“So it is time for Britain to stop clinging to Donald Trump’s coat-tails. Boris Johnson has been the world’s leading sycophant towards the president.”
British voters go to the polls on December 12 in a high-stakes election. While Brexit is the leading single issue, under the most left-wing leader in a generation, a Labour government could introduce foreign policy changes that go way beyond the future relationship with the European Union.
Corbyn, speaking two days after a terrorist stabbed two people to death in central London, used the opportunity to outline his views on the root causes of terrorism – including Western foreign policy decisions in the Arab world and beyond.
Although the threat of terrorism should not be reduced to questions of foreign policy alone, he said, “too often the actions of successive governments have fueled, not reduced that threat.”
“Sixteen years ago, I warned against the invasion and occupation of Iraq. I said it would set off a spiral of conflict, of hate, of misery, and desperation that would fuel the wars, and the conflict, and the terrorism, and the misery of future generations,” Corby said.
“It did, and we are still living with the consequences today of that decision in 2003.”
He went on to criticize British government’s decisions to join the NATO-led intervention in Libya and the conflict in Afghanistan.
“Now we risk being dragged into a further conflict with Iran, on the side of a Saudi regime which is itself an enemy of human rights, and prolonging a desperate humanitarian crisis in Yemen, interfering in its neighbors’ affairs, and murdering journalists.”
Trump slammed in election debate
With less than two weeks to go before the Brexit-focused election, this week’s NATO summit in London is more of a distraction than a welcome opportunity to showcase Britain.
On the sidelines of the summit north of London, Trump is due to hold bilateral meetings with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and the leaders of several allies, including Germany, France, Italy and Denmark.
He is not scheduled to meet with Johnson, however.
In an ITV debate Sunday involving leaders or representatives of seven political parties, five of the participants slammed Johnson for his relationship with Trump, criticizing some of Trump’s views and policies.
The exceptions were Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who called Trump “our most important friend in the world,” and the Conservative representative, Rishi Sunak, who said that “the relationship we have with America is incredibly important for keeping us safe,” adding, “that is not something to turn your nose up at.”
Other leaders spoke deprecatingly about a Johnson-Farage-Trump partnership or “axis.”
“Our quarrel and difference isn’t with the people of the United States of America,” said Labour representative Richard Burgon. “Our quarrel and difference is with some of the policies of Donald Trump, who like Boris Johnson is a politician who has given the green light to sexism, homophobia and racism.”
Last spring, when Johnson was campaigning for the leadership of the Conservatives – after Theresa May resigned over failure to get a Brexit deal through parliament – Trump described both Johnson and Farage as friends, “two very good guys, very interesting people.”
During Trump’s state visit of Britain in June, Corbyn turned down an invitation to a state dinner in the American president’s honor, hosted by the Queen.
In August, with Johnson now at No. 10 Downing Street and struggling to win the House of Commons’ backing for a Brexit agreement, Trump tweeted his support, saying, “Boris is exactly what the U.K. has been looking for, & will prove to be ‘a great one!’”