Trump mocked by Winston Churchill's grandson after taking a rain check on WWI ceremony

"They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate Donald Trump couldn’t even defy the weather"

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published November 12, 2018 11:31AM (EST)

 (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
(AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

A previous version of this story included a quote from Candian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made at the same event in 2017. The error was made by an editor, not the author.

President Donald Trump was on the receiving end of a Twitter tongue-lashing from the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill — although the tempestuous Tory may not be in the best position to stand in judgment of others.

"They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen ," Nicholas Soames, a Member of Parliament from the Conservative Party, tweeted on Saturday. He was referring to a controversial decision by the president to skip a ceremony scheduled for Saturday intended to honor American soldiers who died during the First World War. The reason given by the administration was that Trump had decided to avoid the rainstorm that was pummeling the area where the ceremony was being held, although that put the president in a vulnerable position when pictures appeared in media outlets showing other world leaders at the event.

The rain was also the excuse on Monday when the White House announced that the president will not visit Arlington National Cemetary for the observation of Veterans' Day.

While Soames' sentiment may have been appreciated by Trump's left-wing critics in the United States, it is important to realize that Soames has a rather Trump-ian reputation in his home country. Many of his female colleagues have accused him of sexism, with perhaps the most notorious incident occurring in 2017 when he made "Woof!" noises at Foreign Secretary Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh while she spoke about American immigration policy, according to the BBC. He later apologizes for the incident, saying that "I thought that in her question to the Foreign Secretary she snapped at him a bit at the end, so I offered her a friendly canine salute in return."

He added, "No offence was intended and I apologise to the Honourable Lady if she was offended."

Soames also attracted controversy that year when he met with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, a serial human rights violator who publicized his meeting with the powerful MP. Soames claimed that the meeting was a personal one so that he could reminisce about his father, who was the last governor of Southern Rhodesia (as Zimbabwe was known at the time). It was an incident with certain parallels to Trump's meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, since on both occasions the conservative politician from a democratic nation was criticized for playing into the hands of a dictator's publicity campaign.

Soames also has another similarity with Trump — namely, his association with shady tax dodging scandals. In Soames' case, he had to be publicly shamed into paying taxes on family heirlooms, a decision that prompted comedian Mark Thomas to refer to him as one of the few people he had met without redeeming qualities.

"I try to find the good in my enemies. It's not unusual to be able to get on with people despite what they are doing being awful," Thomas told the UK Independent in 2015. "The only person I have met who I considered to be without any redeeming features was [Conservative MP] Nicholas Soames. Back in the 1990s, he was avoiding inheritance tax [on family heirlooms he had been left, using a tax concession available at the time of listing them as open to public inspection] and we found out he had a lovely three-tier mahogany buffet with partially reeded slender balustrade upright supports. We organised hundreds of people to make appointments to see it. Eventually he just paid the tax. He was such a pantomime baddie."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Donald Trump Nicholas Soames Winston Churchill World War I Memorial