Trump UK visit: MPs set to join protests against ‘racist and sexist’ US president

Clive Lewis plans to help fly the 'baby blimp' for the president's visit

Andrew Woodcock
London
Sunday 02 June 2019 08:46
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Emily Thornberry will take part of the protest against Trump in Trafalga Square

A frontbench Labour MP is to join protesters flying the Donald Trump “baby blimp” over London as the US president arrives for his controversial state visit.

And the party’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has branded Mr Trump a “racist and sexual predator” as he prepares to meet the Queen and Theresa May on the three-day trip.

Thousands of protesters are expected to throng the streets of the capital to voice their opposition to Trump, with a massive rally planned for Trafalgar Square on Tuesday.

Unlike predecessors Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, Mr Trump’s state visit will not involve an address to MPs and peers in the Palace of Westminster.

No request to make a speech was made by Washington, after Commons Speaker John Bercow made it clear he would not be welcome.

Labour Treasury spokesman Clive Lewis said he was planning to be one of the protesters holding the ropes tethering the giant inflatable bright orange effigy of Trump in a nappy as it is flown over London.

He told The Independent: “For many people, having Trump on a state visit will be seen as an endorsement of his quite reprehensible policies, from embargoes on Mexico, trying to build the wall, failing to call out right-wing murder in Charlottesville, the potential collusion with Russia and the lying.

“He is one of the most controversial presidents in history and in so many ways he embodies that populism which is so destructive and corrosive in our societies.

“Our failed prime minister may have invited him and the Queen may be meeting him, but the people will show our displeasure with our protests.”

Cardiff South MP Stephen Doughty, who tabled a parliamentary motion opposing the state visit, said: “Trump is a racist, sexist promoter of the far-right. I love America and Americans – but Trump doesn’t represent the best of America. It’s up to allies to call it like it is – and we should not be rolling out the red carpet and the carriages for this president.”

Mr Doughty said that the focus of the US president’s visit should have been the commemoration of brave British and American veterans at ceremonies to mark the 75th D-Day anniversary.

“Instead it’s likely to all be about Trump’s ego – and whether he meets his fellow travellers Farage and Johnson,” he said.

“I will join hundreds of thousands of others making clear this president’s hateful and divisive rhetoric is not welcome.”

Mr Trump has said he might try to see Tory leadership hopeful Boris Johnson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage during his stay in the UK, though it is understood no meetings have been scheduled.

Mr Farage, who was among the first Britons to see the president after his election victory, told The Independent: “He has been banned from meeting me by Number 10, but we will see what emerges. If he wants to talk with me I will certainly go and see him.”

The Brexit Party leader called for demonstrations to be respectful: “It’s about time we all grew up and recognised that this is about the office of the leader of our most important ally in terms of defence and international security, that the Americans are the biggest overseas investors in the UK.

“Whether you like Mr Trump or not, his office deserves respect. It is their democratic right to protest and no attempt should be made to stop them from doing it, but who do they think they are helping? Certainly not this country or its interests.”

His stance was echoed by Conservative MP Steve Baker: “I am absolutely clear that maintaining and nurturing the special relationship with the US is crucial to the UK’s future, irrespective of the EU.

“I would encourage all protesters, whatever their legitimate views, to respect the office of the president of the United States of America.”

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But there was little respect shown in a video message released by Ms Thornberry, who said Trump was “destroying all the values that have always united Britain and America, destroying the world order, the chances of a Palestinian state and our efforts to tackle climate change. He is trying to take away the rights of women worldwide to control our own bodies.”

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, who has previously described Mr Trump as a “giant asteroid of awfulness”, continued: “His words and his conduct betray him as a racist and a sexual predator. This president does not deserve the honour of a state visit. He is not welcome.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas told The Independent: “Rolling out the red carpet for someone who is a bigot, a racist, misogynistic, a liar and calls climate change a Chinese hoax is madness.

“We’ve given state visits in the past to some very unpleasant characters but that doesn’t mean we should carrying on doing so. A state visit should be an honour awarded to a friend of Britain. There is nothing Donald Trump has said or done which marks him out as a friend of this country.”

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