LONDON: Indian-origin Labour MP Seema Malhotra was among a number of British MPs who spoke out against US President Donald Trump’s proposed state visit to the UK in Parliament.
The MP for Feltham and Heston said many of her constituents are very concerned about the visit planned for later this year during the three-hour-long debate in Westminister Hall yesterday.
“Does the Minister agree at least extending a state visit in this way and at this time could effectively be seen as a validation of the views and statements of President Trump? It has been seen in that way by many of my constituents, who feel very concerned about the message that it sends,” she said, referring her question to UK Foreign Office minister Alan Duncan.
“I do not accept that the process of a State Visit will be seen as such validation… The government strongly believe that it is a perfectly legitimate decision to use the full impact of an invitation to maximise the diplomatic significance of a State Visit at the start of President Trump’s term of office,” Duncan said, presenting the UK government stance on the debate which followed a public petition opposing the tour attracting over 1.8 million signatures.
“President Obama and President George W Bush both visited the UK on a state visit during their first term in office, so it is entirely appropriate that President Trump, too, should be invited in his first term,” he said.
Among some of the harsh comments by British MPs against Trump’s state visit, which is traditionally hosted by the Queen and involves considerable pomp and pageantry, included describing him as “racist and sexist”.
“To do so now [invite Trump], now that he is President, would only reinforce and condone his actions and his divisive, racist and sexist messages… We cannot support what he is doing by offering him legitimacy,” said Naz Shah, a Pakistani-origin Labour party MP.
Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Alex Salmond criticised British Prime Minister Theresa May’s body language during the US visit when she had relayed Queen Elizabeth II’s invitation to Trump for the State Visit.
“As an example of fawning subservience, the prime minister holding hands [with Trump] would be difficult to match. To do it in the name of shared values was stomach churning. What exactly are the shared values that this house, this country would hope to have,” the former Scottish first minister questioned.
The MPs were speaking as hundreds of protesters gathered in Parliament Square to protest against the visit, chanting and waving placards reading “no to racism; no to Trump”.
The state visit, expected around August/September this year, has been at the centre of a string of protests and controversy, including House of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s impartiality coming into question after saying that Trump should be barred from addressing Parliament during any such visit to the UK.