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Donald Trump’s state visit invitation should not be upheld

The new President’s invitation for a state visit to the UK this year has sparked nationwide controversy. Following Theresa May’s announcement of the invitation last week, almost two million people have signed an online petition to prevent the visit – over 4000 in Exeter alone. This is over twenty times the number required for this to be debated in Parliament. Despite this protest, Downing Street has remained firm about their views that the invitation issued by Her Majesty the Queen will stand. This is inadvisable so early in Trump’s Presidency.

In his first week in office, Trump caused extreme controversy with multiple executive orders. Most shocking was the travel ban he imposed on 7 different Muslim countries. This prevents anyone of these nationalities from entering the United States for 90 days, even those who have been travelling abroad and have built a home in America. This is wholly wrong and disturbing in every way.

No matter what nationality you hold, living in a different country is always a scary thing. As a Canadian living in the UK, I was worried at first about not being accepted, but I have been incredibly lucky. I have never felt unwelcome in this country because of my nationality, nor has it ever impacted any aspect of my life here. I am no different from the people currently being turned away from the United States – perfectly innocent individuals, many of whom have built lives which reflect the exact principles of the American Dream. Academics, students, valued employees, and Oscar nominated directors – people who have brought incredible things to the US – turned away. The UK should not be condoning Trump’s act of hatred against innocent and scared people. If Donald Trump will not allow innocent people into the country he governs, it does not seem right to be inviting him as a guest of the highest honour to the UK.

The UK should not be condoning Trump’s act of hatred against innocent and scared people

State visits only happen about once or twice per year, as an honoured individual or foreign leader is invited by the Queen to visit her. This normally involves staying at Buckingham Palace, and a lavish banquet attended by the Royal Family. Up until now, Barack Obama, George W Bush and Ronald Reagan are the only three Presidents to have ever received this treatment. Most others have just been invited on an ‘official visit’ involving extensive political meetings with the Prime Minister to discuss important political matters. This feels much more appropriate an offer to give Trump. If he is to be invited into the UK, it should solely be for political purposes, rather than to treat him as a celebrated and honoured figure.

The Queen does have incredible experience in entertaining and conversing with other challenging figures. In 1973 she welcomed the President of Zaire, who was seen to be an important ally despite his corrupt dictatorial regime. The Japanese Emperor, who had ruled over World War Two Japan, has also been invited before, sparking immense protest throughout the country. Clearly, the Queen is more capable than anyone to deal with the new American President. However, unless he changes his policy, he should not be given this honour. We must make clear that the United Kingdom should only provide friendship to the American President, if he respects our values.

The Queen has hosted controversial figures before, do we need to add another one? (Image: Flickr.com)

As one of the closest allies of the United States, the United Kingdom also holds a special negotiating power with President Trump. Politicians often refer to the ‘special relationship’ between the two countries. However, a close friendship suggests mutual respect and trust. Yes, Donald Trump is the democratically elected leader of the US, and we should by no means question his authority as their leader, or the extent to which he represents the demands of the people. The democratic decision of America must be respected. But there is a point where a line can be drawn. If the United Kingdom fundamentally disagrees with discrimination taking place against innocent people due to their race or nationality, this must be made clear. A message must be sent to the President: that he and his country will lose the respect and support of their closest friend if they do not adhere to the values of our modern world. This will not be accomplished through the invitation of a state visit, where he will feel the United Kingdom does not believe he is doing anything which does not make him worthy of our invitation. The United Kingdom must stand strong, and take this opportunity to try and prevent Trump from crossing further boundaries.

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