Whatever you think of him, Trump deserves a state visit

Chris MoncrieffChris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff
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.

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. Quite an insult.

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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 bullying and ludicrous he may be, was voted into the White House by the people of Britain’s greatest ally.

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, because he believes his predecessor Obama sold the one just vacated for peanuts.

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.

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They include in 1973 President Mobutu of Zaire, a homicidal dictator who embezzled up to £12 billion; 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 and torture is normal.

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.

l The condition of Ukip is not to be admired. The party has had four leaders within the space of a year, which is not a mark of stability. The latest incumbent, Henry Bolton, said to be out of his depth, is being urged to quit after his much younger new girlfriend made racial slurs (for which she has since apologised) against Prince Harry’s fiancee, Meghan Markle.

And what is more, the former leader Nigel Farage has flip-flopped over whether or not he wants a second referendum on Brexit. I never thought I would say this, but Ukip seem to be in an even more shambolic state than are the Conservative Party.

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I used to think David Cameron was seriously over the top when he once described Ukip as a bunch of fruitcakes, among other epithets. I am now beginning to think that he was then not only right, but may well have seriously understated the case.

l People are paying £12,000 to hear David Cameron make a speech in China. I suppose Cameron can make a fairly good run-of-the-mill speech when he tries, but I would say a reasonable price is about a fiver.

These people, splashing their money about, would have done far better to have bought a ticket to London a few years ago and listened to him ad nauseam for days on end for no further outlay.