Downing Street insists Donald Trump’s planned state visit will go ahead
Calls grow for the event to be postponed as long as Trump's ban on refugees remains in place
Theresa May and Donald Trump - credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images
Number 10 has insisted that US President Donald Trump’s planned state visit will go ahead – despite growing calls for the event to be postponed as long as his ban on refugees remains in place.
Downing Street this morning doubled down on its commitment to rolling out the red carpet for Trump as a petition calling for him to be limited to visit as head of government heads towards one million signatures.
"The Prime Minister extended the invitation and President Trump accepted,” a spokesperson said. “The position hasn't changed."
It comes after Jeremy Corbyn yesterday said it would be “totally wrong” for the US president to be invited in light of his highly controversial executive order banning refugees from entering the US.
Demonstrations have been planned across Scotland in opposition to Trump's travel ban, with events in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen calling for Trump's planned state visit to the UK to be cancelled.
Some Conservative politicians are also unhappy about the proposed trip, with Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt both expressing concern.
When she visited the White House last week, May passed on the Queen’s invitation for Trump to come on a state visit this year.
He accepted and Downing Street suggested there would be no revisiting of the issue.
The row came after Trump signed an executive order stopping anybody fleeing the Syrian civil war from entering the US for an indefinite period, as well as a 90-day ban on entrants from seven Muslim-majority nations – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – and a 120-day suspension of the US refugee admissions programme.
Speaking to ITV yesterday, Corbyn called for the state visit offer to be withheld until he changed his policy.
“We should make it very clear that we are extremely upset about it and I think it would be totally wrong for him to come here while that situation was going on,” he said.
“I’m not happy with him coming here until that ban is lifted, quite honestly.”
MPs on the petitions committee will consider whether to debate an online campaign urging Trump’s invitation to be withdrawn “because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen”.
The petition read: “Donald Trump's well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales. Therefore during the term of his presidency Donald Trump should not be invited to the United Kingdom for an official state visit.”
Burt suggested last night that it might be mutually beneficial for the visit, rumoured to be in the works for June, to be delayed.
“All the optics of a visit are currently very bad,” he told Radio 4’s Westminster Hour, highlighting the prospect of “serious demonstrations” against the president.
“I would have thought both United States officials and Foreign Office officials here and No 10 would be thinking ‘this is going to look really terrible’…
“I think this looks too uncomfortable and I wonder if they will find a diplomatic excuse to delay this.”
He added that it should be a “joint decision” by the US and UK in order to prevent “lasting damage” to the relationship between the two countries.
Davidson, meanwhile, put out a statement yesterday saying there should be no state visit as long as British nationals were caught up in the refugee ban – a condition that may have been met by the clarification obtained by the Foreign Office last night.
The Scottish Conservative leader said: “State visits are designed for both the host, and the head of state who is being hosted, to celebrate and entrench friendships and shared values between their respective countries.
“A state visit from the current President of the United States could not possibly occur in the best traditions of the enterprise while a cruel and divisive policy which discriminates against citizens of the host nation is in place.”
Asked what would happen if MPs voted down a deal with the EU in Parliament, May said: "I think that the alternative to that will be having no deal."
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