British Prime Minister Theresa May was accused by opponents Friday of failing to stand up to the United States over its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord. May’s office says she spoke to President Donald Trump after his announcement and “expressed her disappointment with the decision.” But Britain did not sign a joint statement by the leaders of Germany, France and Italy, who said they regretted Trump’s decision and insisted that the accord cannot be renegotiated.
May’s Downing St office would not say whether she had been asked to sign it. May noted that Japan and Canada fellow members of the G-7 group of rich industrialized nations also were not signatories, but like Britain remain committed to the Paris agreement.“It’s an important international agreement on climate change,” May said on Friday. “I made the UK’s position clear to President Trump last week at the G-7 meeting, as did the other G-7 leaders, and I made the position clear to President Trump last night.”
Trump’s announcement sent the issue of climate change and May’s attempts to bolster the trans-Atlantic “special relationship” with the US to the top of the agenda today in campaigning for Britain’s June 8 election. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn accused May of “subservience” to Trump. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron urged May to use whatever influence she has to urge Trump to reverse his decision. “You have gone to Washington to hold Donald Trump’s hand, now is the time to hold his feet to the fire,” Farron said, referring to a brief hand-holding moment during May’s trip to the White House in January. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said not signing the declaration was an “appalling abdication of leadership.”