Labour’s Emily Thornberry says she has ‘large number of things’ to say to Donald Trump on UK trip but can’t do so in front of Queen

Shadow foreign secretary has previously described the US president as ‘giant asteroid of awfulness’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 21 May 2019 19:23
Emily Thornberry says she has a "large number of things" to say to Trump during his state visit

Emily Thornberry has claimed she has a “large number of things” she wishes to say to Donald Trump during his state visit – just not in front of the Queen.

Ahead of the US president’s trip to the UK in two weeks’ time, the shadow foreign secretary urged Jeremy Corbyn to invite her along to any private meeting he may have with Mr Trump.

Alongside the Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable and the Commons speaker John Bercow, the Labour leader has rejected an invitation to attend a state banquet at Buckingham Palace in honour of Mr Trump next month.

The Labour frontbencher, who has previously described the US leader as a “an asteroid of awfulness” and a “racist”, dismissed suggestions the decision not to attend the dinner was due to not wanting to share an audience with Mr Trump.

Instead, she said: “We’re saying that we won’t go to the state dinner but if the American president wants to see us then I’m more than happy to see him.”

“If Jeremy is invited to the meet the president I will be urging Jeremy to allow me to come too because I have a large number of things I want to say to him, but I don’t want to say those things to him in front of the Queen.”

Her remarks came as Mr Trump and the first lady Melania prepare to travel to the UK on a state visit between 3-6 June – coinciding with the 75th anniversary commemorations of the D-Day landings.

Last month, Mr Corbyn turned down an invitation for the state banquet with Mr Trump, claiming: “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.”

But the Labour leader added he would “welcome” a meeting with Mr Trump. “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,” he said.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Thornberry also said she was “concerned” about the escalating tensions between the United States and Iran in recent weeks.

“Really the Iranian nuclear deal was the beginnings of progress, the door for progress,” she said. “When Donald Trump closed that door and said he was going to have no more to do with the Iranian nuclear deal – the reason I’m so sad and so concerned about it is that if we don’t go through the door of progress what is the alternative? How do we stop the Iranians developing nuclear weapons?

“And my real worry is particularly with this current administration we could be heading for war.”

During her appearance on the BBC, Ms Thornberry added that unless there were “radical” changes to the prime minister’s Brexit plans before she presents them to the Commons next month, then Labour will vote against the government.

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