Donald Trump has sensationally sacked Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State (equivalent to the UK’s Foreign Secretary), hours after Mr Tillerson made a strong statement supporting the UK’s stance against Russia over the Salisbury poisonings.
Mr Tillerson had said: “We have full confidence in the UK’s investigation and its assessment that Russia was likely responsible for the nerve agent attack that took place in Salisbury last week.
“There is never a justification for this type of attack — the attempted murder of a private citizen on the soil of a sovereign nation — and we are outraged that Russia appears to have again engaged in such behaviour. From Ukraine to Syria — and now the UK — Russia continues to be an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens.”
The official statement from the White House was much less supportive.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said: “The use of a highly lethal nerve agent against UK citizens on UK soil is an outrage. The attack was reckless, indiscriminate and irresponsible. We offer the fullest condemnation, and we extend our sympathy to the victims and their families, and our support to the UK government. We stand by our closest ally and the special relationship that we have.
Pressed further on whether Russia was behind the act, she said: “Right now, we are standing with our UK ally.”
Did Mr Trump sack Mr Tillerson because he went too far in condemning Russia?
The official line is that “the president wanted to make sure to have his new team in place in advance of the upcoming talks with North Korea and various ongoing trade negotiations.”
But there are rumours that Mr Trump actually told Mr Tillerson he was to be replaced on Friday last week (March 9). In that case, with Mr Tillerson’s statement following the lukewarm comment from the White House, was the departing Secretary of State making a gesture of defiance to the President – and putting him in a tricky position with Russia at the same time?
It’s all a long way from the situation with the European Union:
We stand shoulder to shoulder with the British people. It must be made clear that an attack against one EU & NATO country is an attack on all of us. https://t.co/QfjvYKk9c6
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) March 13, 2018
Compare & contrast with the gangster in the White House. https://t.co/nTWlrVTe6V
— James O'Brien (@mrjamesob) March 13, 2018
Yet the UK is separating from its friends in the EU and trying to chum up with an indifferent USA.
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