London Mayor Denounces Trump On Eve Of State Visit
Just a day before he is scheduled to arrive in the city for a State Visit, London's Mayor is denouncing President Trump.
Just a day before President Trump is set to arrive in the United Kingdom for a long-delayed State Visit that will include a banquet with the Queen, meetings with heir apparent Prince Charles and other Royal Family members, and all the other pomp and circumstance that surrounds such an event, the Mayor of London is arguing that Trump isn’t deserving of the honors that will be bestowed on him:
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has compared the language used by Donald Trump to rally his supporters to that of “the fascists of the 20th century” in an explosive intervention before the US president’s state visit to London that begins on Monday.
Writing in the Observer, Khan condemned the red-carpet treatment being afforded to Trump who, with his wife Melania, will be a guest of the Queen during his three-day stay, which is expected to provoke massive protests in the capital on Tuesday.
Khan said: “President Donald Trump is just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat. The far right is on the rise around the world, threatening our hard-won rights and freedoms and the values that have defined our liberal, democratic societies for more than 70 years.
“Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Matteo Salvini in Italy, Marine Le Pen in France and Nigel Farage here in the UK are using the same divisive tropes of the fascists of the 20th century to garner support, but with new sinister methods to deliver their message. And they are gaining ground and winning power and influence in places that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.”
Khan, who has had a feud with Trump since becoming mayor in 2016, adds: “This is a man who also tried to exploit Londoners’ fears following a horrific terrorist attack on our city, amplified the tweets of a British far-right racist group, denounced as fake news the robust scientific evidence warning of the dangers of climate change, and is now trying to interfere shamelessly in the Conservative party leadership race by backing Boris Johnson because he believes it would enable him to gain an ally in Number 10 for his divisive agenda.”
On Saturday Trump defied diplomatic convention which dictates that leaders do not weigh in to the domestic politics of other nations, particularly ahead of visits, by backing Johnson to succeed Theresa May in an interview with the Sun. He also used the interview to describe the Duchess of Sussex, as “nasty”.
In another interview in the Sunday Times he said he would want “to know” Jeremy Corbyn before sharing American intelligence and suggested Nigel Farage negotiate with Brussels if the EU failed to give Britain what it wants.
Mel Stride, the newly appointed Commons leader, made clear his surprise at Trump’s comments, saying that while the president was entitled to his opinion, he would not be picking the next British prime minister.
Corbyn said: “President Trump’s attempt to decide who will be Britain’s next prime minister is an entirely unacceptable interference in our country’s democracy. The next prime minister should be chosen not by the US president, nor by 100,000 unrepresentative Conservative party members, but by the British people in a general election.”
Jo Swinson, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Donald Trump backs Boris, they’re cut from the same cloth. Boris Johnson is what you’d get if you sent Donald Trump to Eton.
“They’re both unqualified to lead, both revel in offending people and both represent the strain of nationalism and populism that we need a liberal movement to stand up to.”
Khan’s column, titled “It’s un-British to roll out the red carpet for Donald Trump,” is about as sharp and biting as you’d expect:
Praising the “very fine people on both sides” when torch-wielding white supremacists and antisemites marched through the streets clashing with anti-racist campaigners. Threatening to veto a ban on the use of rape as a weapon of war. Setting an immigration policy that forcefully separates young children from their parents at the border. The deliberate use of xenophobia, racism and “otherness” as an electoral tactic. Introducing a travel ban to a number of predominately Muslim countries. Lying deliberately and repeatedly to the public.
No, these are not the actions of European dictators of the 1930s and 40s. Nor the military juntas of the 1970s and 80s. I’m not talking about Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong-un. These are the actions of the leader of our closest ally, the president of the United States of America. This is a man who tried to exploit Londoners’ fears following a horrific terrorist attack on our city, amplified the tweets of a British far-right racist group, denounced as fake news robust scientific evidence warning of the dangers of climate change, and is now trying to interfere shamelessly in the Conservative party leadership race by backing Boris Johnson because he believes it would enable him to gain an ally in Number 10 for his divisive agenda.
Donald Trump is just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat. The far right is on the rise around the world, threatening our hard-won rights and freedoms and the values that have defined our liberal, democratic societies for more than seventy years. Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Matteo Salvini in Italy, Marine Le Pen in France and Nigel Farage here in the UK are using the same divisive tropes of the fascists of the 20th century to garner support, but are using new sinister methods to deliver their message. And they are gaining ground and winning power and influence in places that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
There are some who argue that we should hold our noses and stomach the spectacle of honouring Trump in this fashion – including many Conservative politicians. They say we need to be realists and stroke his ego to maintain our economic and military relationship with the US. But at what point should we stop appeasing – and implicitly condoning – his far-right policies and views? Where do we draw the line?
Rather than bestowing Trump with a grand platform of acceptability to the world, we should be speaking out and saying that this behaviour is unacceptable – and that it poses a grave threat to the values and principles we have fought hard to defend – often together – for decades.
I am proud of our historic special relationship, which I’m certain will survive long after President Trump leaves office. The US is a country I love and have visited on many occasions. I still greatly admire the culture, the people and the principles articulated by the founding fathers. But America is like a best friend, and with a best friend you have a responsibility to be direct and honest when you believe they are making a mistake.
In years to come, I suspect this state visit will be one we look back on with profound regret and acknowledge that we were on the wrong side of history.
History teaches us of the danger of being afraid to speak truth to power and the risk of failing to defend our values from the rise of the far right. At this challenging time in global politics, it’s more important than ever that we remember that lesson.
This column is just the latest example of what has become something of a long-running feud between Sadiq Khan, who was elected Mayor of London in 2016 after having served in the Cabinet of Gordon Brown, the most recent Labour Party Prime Minister and, for the nine years, as a Member of Parliament, and the President of the United States. In 2016, Trump bizarrely challenged Khan to an IQ test after getting into a Twitter fight with him over Trump’s bigoted comments about Muslims. Two years ago, after a terrorist attack in London, Trump attacked Khan out of the blue, an event that prompted Khan to speak out against the President quite forcefully. That event appears to have been just the beginning of Khan’s antipathy toward the American President, which the President apparently shares, When the President visited the United Kingdom for a “working visit” that fell short of being an official state visit even though he did have a brief meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, Khan joined tens of thousands of protesters in the streets of London protesting Trump’s visit, and he has made clear that he will not participate in the honors to be bestowed on the President when he arrives in the United Kingdom tomorrow.
Given that they come less than twenty-four hours before the President is set to arrive in the United Kingdom, these remarks are likely to be a topic of conversation going forward and it’s likely that he’ll be asked about them at some point along the way. I’m sure we can count on him to be diplomatic and restrained in his response.