Britain divided over Donald Trump state visit
As the Queen rolls out the red carpet for Donald Trump today, a bitter row has opened up between those who think the honour is right and those who condemn it as hypocritical and immoral.
Donald Trump arrived in Britain today. His state visit has all the signs of a strange and tense occasion.
Opinion polls suggest the US president is widely unpopular in the UK. Anti-Trump demonstrations are planned in London. Some political figures, including the leaders of two big opposition parties, have declined invitations to the state banquet in his honour.
But others say they are mistaken. State visits are designed to honour a country, not an individual. The US has been Britain’s closest ally since the 1940s and is likely to continue to play that role, long after Trump has left office.
Opponents of the visit say we can’t ignore the fact that Trump’s “America first” agenda has opened up a series of divisions, including the Iran nuclear deal, the Middle East peace process, the Paris climate accord and the future of the World Trade Organisation.
Together, these disagreements point to a serious difference of opinion about the importance of international law.
Perhaps the most significant difference of opinion concerns western relations with China.
So far, the UK has refused to join America’s campaign against Huawei. The UK is open to Huawei being part of the country’s 5G network. But the Trump administration has made clear that the Huawei issue could damage sharing of secret intelligence between the US and the UK.
This visit is a horrible spectacle says The Guardian, “fulfilling the social aspirations of Trump and all his grim entourage”. It is absolutely typical that Britain should behave hypocritically in celebrating a man who has done so much that we should condemn.
Trump deserves a state visit to the UK, says The Financial Times. The daily business between Britain and America remains intense, spanning everything from finance and transport to security and the arts.
- Is it silly to protest about Donald Trump’s visit?
- Using the Expert Links, write a brief description of a state visit and what it means.
Some People Say...
“It’s so un-British to be rolling out the red carpet this week for a formal state visit by a president whose divisive behaviour flies in the face of the ideals America was founded upon: equality, liberty and religious freedom.”Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- Today, there will be a ceremonial welcome attended by the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall in the Buckingham Palace garden. After the welcome, the Duke of Sussex will join the group for a private lunch. Then the Trumps will visit Westminster Abbey for a tour before tea with Prince Charles and a state banquet.
- What do we not know?
- How big the protests will be. Campaigner claim “huge numbers” will turn out in response to Trump’s arrival. Supporters of the human rights charity Amnesty have said they will reveal five banners outside the US embassy reading: “Resist sexism”, “Resist racism”, “Resist hate”, “Resist cruelty” and “Resist Trump”. A 16-ft talking robot of Mr Trump sitting on a golden toilet is also expected to make an appearance.
- Two big opposition parties
- Both Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, and Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, have turned down invitations to the state banquet at Buckingham Palace.
- A friend and supporter.
- Left office
- To no longer hold the role. In this case, as president of the US.
- “America first”
- This refers to a foreign policy in the United States that emphasises American nationalism and unilateralism — in other words, the USA acting more selfishly in its own interests, rather than attempting to be the “world’s policeman”.
- World Trade Organisation
- Organisation that deals with the rules of trade between countries around the world.
- Chinese giant technology company. The name means ‘China be achieving’.