Like him or not, Trump must visit

Those who greeted with glee the announcement by President Trump that he is cancelling his forthcoming visit to Britain have done the UK a disservice, however virtuous they probably consider themselves to be.

Tuesday, 16th January 2018, 8:37 am
Updated Tuesday, 16th January 2018, 9:40 am

The Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was among the first to metaphorically throw his hat in the air when he heard this news. Within a few hours, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had denounced Khan as “a puffed-up pompous popinjay”. Johnson might equally have applied these epithets to the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, who announced in the House some months ago that Trump, if he made a State Visit here, would not be allowed to address both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall.

Not only should the Speaker, however obliquely, not express personal opinions, but he had failed to consult the House of Lords.

What these two, and many others, should realise is that Trump, however vain, self-obsessed and ludicrous he may be, was voted into the White House by the people of Britain’s greatest ally.

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The simple rule is that you have to talk to these people, whether you like them or not. Trump’s excuse for cancelling is that he does not want to open the new US embassy.

However, it is likely he was deterred by the icy coldness of those people who denounced his visit.

Yet, Britain has cheerfully – and quite properly – invited far worse people over here.

They include, in 1973, President Mobutu of Zaire, a homicidal dictator who embezzled up to £12bn; in 1978, Romania’s Communist brutal head of state Nicolae Ceausescu; and, in 1994, the abominable president Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Two years ago, it was President Xi Jinping of China – the ruler of a one-party state where dissidents are jailed, torture is normal, and citizens are spied on.

There was no particular opposition by these visits by these monsters – compared with whom Trump is positively mild.

At least Downing Street has come out, hoping that Trump, despite the malcontents, will visit Britain. It is his right and our duty that he should come here – and be welcomed.