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Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said Donald Trump is part of a 'fascist tradition' of politics Ben Stansall/AFP

Donald Trump and the rise of the right-wing in Europe are part of a "fascist tradition" of politics, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

In a presidential address to the General Synod, Justin Welby said that the Church of England needs to play a key role in an era of populism which has arisen due to globalisation and the impact of "marginalisation politically".

"There are a thousand ways to explain the Brexit vote or the election of President Trump or the strength in the polls in Holland of Geert Wilders or in France of Madame Le Pen and many other leaders in a nationalist, populist or even fascist tradition of politics," he said.

His comments could further complicate the upcoming state visit to Britain of Trump, and follow criticism of the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, who has accused the US president of sexism and racism.

In addition to the broadside against Trump, Welby painted a negative picture of Britain's economy, which he said has suffered from "appallingly low levels of investment by the corporate sector", an absence of research and development funding, and a low level of educational aspirations among the worst off.

However, on a more positive note, he said that Brexit gave the UK a "moment to reimagine Britain", adding that "This could be a time of liberation, of seizing and defining the future, or it could be one in which the present problems seize our national future and define us."