MPs campaign to have Donald Trump's UK state visit cancelled

Activists say Trump’s three-day visit from 3 June will prompt ‘huge mobilisation’

Theresa May has been criticised for allowing Donald Trump to make a state visit in June for D-day commemorations, with MPs orchestrating a campaign to stop the US president addressing parliament.

Labour said it “beggars belief” that the government is offering the red-carpet treatment to Trump given his attacks on British and American values. Backbenchers began gathering signatures for a petition aiming to force the cancellation of the trip.

The three-day trip starting on 3 June was confirmed by Buckingham Palace and the White House on Tuesday. The initial invitation was extended soon after Trump took office but a planned state visit in 2018, with all its pomp and ceremony, was downgraded to an official visit amid security concerns.

This time, Trump is likely to dine with the Queen, attend discussions with May in Downing Street and join an event in Portsmouth to mark the D-day landings.

No 10 said the D-day event would be “one of the greatest British military spectacles in recent history” and would include a flypast of 26 types of RAF aircraft and at least 11 Royal Navy ships in the Solent.

May said the visit would emphasise that the UK and US “have a deep and enduring partnership that is rooted in our common history and shared interests”.

After arriving in the UK on Air Force One on Monday 3 June, US president Donald Trump will be formally welcomed in a ceremony in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. It will be attended by the Queen and Prince Charles. The president will then attend a private lunch at the palace, which is expected to be attended by Prince Harry, but not his wife, who Trump recently described as 'nasty'.

Following a wreath-laying ceremony in Westminster Abbey, Donald Trump will join Prince Charles for an afternoon tea at Clarence House. The Queen, Prince Charles and Prince Harry will then host a state banquet in the evening, which will be attended by prominent US citizens who live in the UK, as well as political and civic leaders.

On Tuesday 4 June the visit includes a breakfast meeting with Prince Andrew, and then talks and a press conference with prime minister Theresa May at Downing Street. On the Tuesday evening Trump hosts a dinner at the residence of the US ambassador.

On Wednesday 5 June Trump will take part in commemoration services in Portsmouth to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. The day ends with the Queen formally bidding farewell to the US president. 

Trump’s entourage will also include two identical seven-seat black armoured limousines nicknamed ‘The Beast’, and a number of presidential helicopters. The president has at his side at all times one of five rotating military aides who carry the nuclear ‘football’ which can trigger a missile strike - equipped with communication tools and a book with prepared war plans.  

“We do more together than any two nations in the world and we are both safer and more prosperous because of our cooperation,” May said. “The state visit is an opportunity to strengthen our already close relationship in areas such as trade, investment, security and defence, and to discuss how we can build on these ties in the years ahead.”

A White House spokesman said: “This state visit will reaffirm the steadfast and special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. In addition to meeting the Queen, the president will participate in a bilateral meeting with [the] prime minister, Theresa May.”

The prospect of Trump being granted the honour of a carriage ride down the Mall appalled many MPs. Anti-Trump campaigners called for a protest in London on 4 June.

Asad Rehman, the executive director of War on Want and a member of the Stop Trump Coalition, said the group was preparing for a “huge mobilisation”.

“It will make lots and lots of people very angry. We will be easily expecting way more than the quarter of a million people who turned out last time,” he told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme.

Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, issued a strongly worded statement against the visit. “It beggars belief that on the very same day Donald Trump is threatening to veto a UN resolution against the use of rape as a weapon of war, Theresa May is pressing ahead with her plans to honour him with a state visit to the UK,” she said.

The Scottish government said in a pointed statement that it had not been consulted about the trip. A spokeswoman added: “We will not compromise our fundamental values of equality, diversity and human rights, and we expect these values to be made clear during the president’s visit to the UK.”

A group of backbench Labour MPs began organising an early day motion calling on May to ask Buckingham Palace to rescind the invitation. The motion said MPs “note previous motions and debates in the house including on the withholding of the honour of a joint address to the houses of parliament; further notes the historical significance and honour that comes with the choice to offer a full state visit to an individual; and calls on the prime minister and the government to rescind the advice to offer a full state visit to President Trump.”

Stephen Doughty, who is gathering signatures, said the invitation was “bonkers” and called Trump a “racist, sexist, extremist” whose presence would deepen divisions in the country.

Dust off the blimp @crisortunity #TrumpUKVisit

— Clive Lewis MP (@labourlewis) April 23, 2019

Another Labour MP, David Lammy, described Trump as “deluded, dishonest, xenophobic, narcissistic” not worthy of the UK’s highest honours or a banquet with the Queen. “Theresa May is selling out the UK to a serial liar and a cheat,” he said.

John Bercow, the Speaker, has previously indicated he would not want to allow Trump to address both houses of parliament, which has happened on previous state visits by foreign leaders.

In February 2017, Bercow said he felt “very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons”.

Meanwhile, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, the Liberal Democrat leader of Portsmouth city council expressed dismay that Trump’s visit could overshadow the D-day commemorations.

“I am disappointed because it will change the nature of the event a great deal; for us the centre of the events was meant to be the veterans,” he said.

It will be only the third state visit by a US president during the Queen’s 67-year reign, after George W Bush and Barack Obama.

During his visit last year, Trump met the Queen at Windsor Castle. He described her as a “tremendous woman” who had “really never made a mistake”.


Matthew Weaver, Rowena Mason and Caroline Davies

The GuardianTramp

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