Stephen Doughty: I love America and its spirit of optimism – but Britain must refuse to honour Trump with a state visit

Stephen Doughty
© Gage Skidmore


Stephen Doughty writes on why he has tabled a Commons motion opposing plans to grant Donald Trump a state visit. The full text of the motion follows the article.

I love America. I love Americans. I have visited 25 of the US 50 states. My grandfather was an American GI who came over to Britain to help us fight the Nazis in the Second World War. I have witnessed first hand the generosity, optimism and kindness of spirit of Americans of every race, creed, colour and religion.  I respect the Office of the President of the United States.

But I cannot honour Donald J. Trump. And nor should our monarch, parliament or government.

I am a pragmatist. Trump is the elected president, and America one of our greatest allies and friends. I have no objections to necessary meetings, visits, discussions and inter-governmental contact. After all he represents but one part of the US constitution.

But we choose to honour. We choose to offer the full hospitality of our life-time servant, the remarkable Queen Elizabeth II. We choose to offer the opportunity to address both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall – where we have let honoured the likes of Nelson Mandela and where Churchill laid at rest – or the Royal Gallery where I witnessed a remarkable speech by President Higgins of Ireland.

And this goes far wider than Donald J. Trump. I have repeatedly criticised the choice to fawn over the authoritarian monarchies of the Gulf – guilty of vast human rights abuses, the persecution of LGBT+ people and mistreatment of women – not to mention their barring of Israeli citizens from travel.

A strong partnership and dialogue with China is clearly in our national interest. But the sight of the full honours chosen to be granted to a president whose government continues to execute thousands every year stuck in the throat of many. Serious questions are now rightly being asked about the actions of Aung Sang Suu Kyi and her government against the Rohingya minority. It is highly unlikely we would choose to welcome her back to Westminster Hall.

We must choose not to honour or encourage those who attack or stand against our basic values of humanity and equality. We should choose not to honour those to those who denigrate women, advocate torture, and who demonise people because of their faith. Those are not British values.

We should choose not to honour Donald Trump with a state visit. And we should refuse him the honour of Westminster Hall.

Stephen Doughty is Labour and Co-op MP for Cardiff South and Penarth

Early day motion 890: “That this House deplores recent actions taken by the US President Donald J. Trump, including his Executive Order on Immigration and Refugees, and notably his comments on torture and women; notes the historical significance and honour that comes with an invitation to address both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall or elsewhere in the Palace of Westminster; and, calls upon the Speaker, Lord Speaker, Black Rod and Serjeant at Arms to withold permission from Her Majesty’s Government for an address to be made in Westminster Hall, or elsewhere in the Palace of Westminster by President Trump.”

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