Donald Trump State visit debate
Yesterday (21st February) I spoke in Parliament in opposition to President Trump being granted a state visit.
My remarks were also reported on by the Washington Post, Time, CNN, PBS, The Guardian, The Guardian (x2) the Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Sky News, ITV News, Buzzfeed, the Mirror, the Mirror (x2) the Sun, the i,
I have copied my speech below:
This debate cuts to the heart of the nature of our democracy and of how we honour and celebrate other countries, which is why it is important to reflect on whether it is right, after seven days, that Donald Trump be afforded a full state visit.
I am a great friend of the United States. My father is buried in the United States. I studied in the United States. I worked in the United States. I have visited America more times than I have visited France; it is a country I love tremendously.
I suspect that all of us in the Chamber are well aware of the British people’s deep connection with and affection for America and its people, but we are also aware of the challenges that exist in that country and the contentious manner of the election that led to Donald Trump’s becoming President.
One would expect, I think, the leader of the free world to come to Britain, but it is about the terms and the basis on which that is done. An official visit might have been appropriate, but to afford this man, after seven days, a state visit is why so many people have petitioned.
I am here because I want to remind the Chamber about the path that America has taken and about the contribution of African Americans in the United States. Many African Americans there are sitting at home in fear.
They are concerned about a President who has had the support of the Ku Klux Klan.
They are concerned about a President who has welcomed white supremacists—a term we had almost hoped would fall into history—into his close inner circle. They look at events such as Black History Month.
Think about how our own Prime Ministers of different political stripes respond to such things and the sort of statements they make, and look at what Donald Trump said and how he made the event all about himself.
Seven days, and he gets the full panoply of the state. Really?
I think of my five-year-old daughter when I reflect on a man who considers it okay to go and grab pussy, a man who considers it okay to be misogynistic towards the woman he is running against.
Frankly, I cannot imagine a leader of this country, of whatever political stripe, behaving in that manner.
People are offended and concerned that Britain should abandon all its principles and afford this man a state visit after seven days.
Really? And why? Is this great country so desperate for a trade deal that we would throw all of our own history out of the window?
We did not do it for Kennedy, Truman or Reagan, but to this man, after seven days, we say, “Please come and we will lay on everything because we are so desperate for your company”.
I think this country is greater than that. I think my children deserve better than that. I think my daughter deserves better than that. I am ashamed, frankly, that it has come to this.
We should think very carefully about a President whose attitude towards the press is, as we are finding out, abhorrent. We should think very carefully about a President who has said the things he has said. He has put so many people in fear through his statements. For that reason, we should not afford him a state visit.