Corbyn to boycott 'racist and misogynistic' Trump state banquet during UK visit

‘Theresa May should not be rolling out the red carpet for a state visit to honour a president who rips up vital international treaties, backs climate change denial and uses racist and misogynist rhetoric’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Friday 26 April 2019 16:55
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Emily Thornberry suggests that Donald Trump sits next to Greta Thurnberg and David Attenborough during his UK visit

Jeremy Corbyn has turned down an invitation to a state banquet with Donald Trump at Buckingham Palace during the US president’s official three-day visit to London.

The move from the Labour leader comes after both the House of Commons speaker John Bercow and the Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable also rejected offers to join in the pomp and ceremony in June.

“Theresa May should not be rolling out the red carpet for a state visit to honour a president who rips up vital international treaties, backs climate change denial and uses racist and misogynist rhetoric,” Mr Corbyn said in a statement.

While he added that he would “welcome” a meeting with Mr Trump, he continued: “Maintaining an important relationship with the United States does not require the pomp and ceremony of a state visit. It is disappointing that the prime minister has again opted to kowtow to this US administration.”

Earlier this week in a letter to staff at Buckingham Palace, Sir Vince also described the invitation as “inappropriate”, adding: “I did not accept an invitation to attend a state banquet with the King of Saudi Arabia for that reason.

“I hope and trust Her Majesty the Queen will understand that I decline this invitation out of no disrespect for her. I am, of course, hugely honoured to have been invited.”

And a spokeswoman for the commons speaker also told The Sun: “Mr Speaker has been invited to the banquet, but he will not be attending.”

It is expected the US president will meet the Queen again in June and enjoy the major honour more than two years after Theresa May first issued the invitation when Mr Trump took office in January 2017.

He will spend most of the three days in the UK ahead of a trip to France as part of the 75th-anniversary commemorations for the D-Day landings on 6 June.

It remains unclear, however, whether Mr Trump will be cleared to address MPs and peers in the historic Westminster Hall – an honour previously bestowed on his predecessor Barack Obama.

Before his first official visit to the UK as US president in the summer of 2018, Mr Bercow said he was “strongly opposed” to granting Mr Trump permission to address the house in the wake of his administration’s highly-contentious ban on migrants from certain Muslim countries.

But addressing journalists on Thursday, the foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said he would support Mr Trump addressing parliament, adding: “I think it is very important when you have a state visit by our closest and most important ally that we think about the office as much as the person.

“I hope we make the best possible welcome for President Trump. He is a controversial politician, but in the end, his visit is about more than Trump’s policies, it is about the alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom that goes back many, many years.

“The appropriate thing to do is to show him the best possible welcome.”

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