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As violence erupts throughout the United States in response to the killing of George Floyd, the United Kingdom has yet to comment on the police response. During the Liberal Democrats leadership contest, Ed Davey claims the government is yet to comment due to post-Brexit fears.
Acting leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey urged UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday to publicly call out US President Donald Trump for the police brutality against demonstrators and journalists reporting on protests throughout America.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Davey said that Johnson’s unwillingness to “speak truth to power” revealed an imbalance in the UK’s historic close relations with the US.
In an interview with The Independent following the official launch of his leadership bid, Davey said that the PM’s poor handling of post-Brexit trade talks with the European Union has seen him “pinned in a corner” and desperate not to anger the US as the UK pursues a comprehensive trading agreement.
“If this series of events were happening in any other country, UK government would not only be calling out such behaviour, it would be using diplomatic channels and international pressure to stop this violence”, the acting Lib Dem leader said.
“Both protestors and journalists have had their freedoms curtailed by an administration led by a president who has been using his high office as a bully pulpit, inciting more violence”.
He said that the Prime Ministers previously stated “pride in Britain’s place in the world” means nothing “if we are not willing to stand up when we see fundamental democratic values being infringed, especially coming from one of our closest allies”.
While not wanting to revisit the arguments over the EU, Davey highlighted Brexit “hotheads” in government as the reason for Johnson’s silence and their insistence to see the UK cut ties with Europe.
On Friday, Davey joined a call by 164 MPs to end the sale of weaponry to the United States.
The Prime Minister has said he was “appalled” by the killing of George Floyd, an African American man who died at the hands of US police, but has yet to comment on President Trump’s response to the subsequent protests.
Law enforcement across the country cracked down harshly in response to the mass protests, using rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and have physically attacked demonstrators and bystanders.
According to the Independent, the British embassy in Washington has raised a guarded concern about British journalists being impeded from covering the demonstrations by law enforcement.
Following the resignation of former Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson after losing her East Dunbartonshire seat in the 2019 general election, the party delayed their leadership election amid the coronavirus pandemic to August.
So far, Bath MP Wera Hobhouse and Layla Moran, who is the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, have also declared their candidacy for the leadership position.