The United States is a “bastion of peace and freedom”.
These were the words of Boris Johnson this week despite the horrific murder of George Floyd; despite continued police brutality on American streets, and despite reports the US president used tear gas to disperse a peaceful crowd so he could stand in front of a church holding a bible for press photos.
Watching events unfold across America and the actions and rhetoric from Donald Trump has been deeply worrying.
We cannot delude ourselves into believing we are witnessing anything less than a dangerous slide into autocracy.
That’s why I asked the prime minister during prime minister’s questions this week if he stood by his earlier comments that the US president has “many, many great qualities”.
Boris Johnson had the opportunity to condemn tyrannical behaviour, to make a stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, but he failed to take it.
The UK Government’s response to events happening on the other side of the Atlantic have been negligent.
The UK’s “special relationship” with the United States shouldn’t give the prime minister a free pass to avoid condemning his ally; if anything, it places a greater responsibility on him to call out Trump’s behaviour.
It is imperative the UK is vocal on human rights, freedom to gather and protest,
freedom of speech, and upholding press freedom in all parts of the world, including the United States.
The SNP called on the UK Government to suspend the exports of millions of pounds worth of riot control equipment to the US – including tear gas and rubber bullets.
The prime minister must have seen how these weapons are being used on American streets; however, the request hasn’t even been acknowledged.
In contrast, the Scottish Parliament this week called for the immediate suspension of exports of riot gear to the United States.
A successful motion, which was backed by 52 votes to 0 with 11 abstentions, says the parliament “stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and considers that the UK government must immediately suspend all export licences for tear gas, rubber bullets and riot gear to the US”.
When my Westminster colleague Ian Blackford MP asked the prime minister what representations he had made to Donald Trump on the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, he failed to answer the question – this was despite it being a matter of public record that a phone call had recently taken place between the two leaders.
This is simply not good enough.
Kirsty Blackman is the MP for Aberdeen North and deputy leader of the SNP at Westminster.