The US has the “checks and balances” in place to potentially oust President Donald Trump early over his encouragement of the assault on the Capitol, a UK Cabinet minister has said.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps declined to give his backing to calls to remove the Republican by invoking the 25th Amendment over concerns about his fitness to remain in office.
But he described as “despicable” the scenes after Mr Trump encouraged the mob of supporters to march to Congress in Washington DC with his baseless allegations of electoral fraud.
“But leave it to the Americans to resolve. America’s a great democracy, they’ve got all the institutions in place, the checks and balances are there, and to see something like that happen in the United States is really quite extraordinary and I know there will be quite some reflection on that.”
His comments came after a police officer died from injuries he suffered when Trump supporters launched the assault on the Capitol on Wednesday, making him the fifth person to die after the clashes.
Pressure is increasing for Mr Trump to be ousted from the White House ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged vice-president Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to declare Mr Trump unable to perform his duties.
The move would require Mr Pence, who was an unwavering ally of the president until this week, defying his final attempt to overturn the election, and at least eight cabinet members to invoke the amendment.
UK ministers have in the past been at pains not to criticise Mr Trump, with Mr Shapps once saying “I’ll defer to medical expertise” when questioned about the president’s dangerous suggestion that disinfectant could be injected into the body to treat Covid-19.
But as power drained away from the president, so did international niceties.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned Mr Trump’s incitement of supporters to descend on the Capitol as “completely wrong”, while Home Secretary Priti Patel said the president’s incendiary comments “directly led to the violence”.
Mr Shapps’ bookcase during his broadcast round on Friday displayed where the Government’s allegiances now firmly lie. Positioned prominently behind him was an autobiography by Mr Biden’s nominee for transport secretary, Pete Buttigieg.