A week spent pandering to Trump
13 June, 2019
US president Donald Trump
• ONE month after his inauguration parliament debated whether US president Donald Trump should be given the honour of a state visit.
The debate was triggered by a petition, signed by millions of British citizens, urging the government against rolling out the red carpet.
As the daughter of a political asylum seeker, and perhaps worst of all for Trump a woman with strong opinions, it may be unsurprising to learn that I argued against the state visit.
With his circus now firmly out of town, I want to offer two key reflections.
Primarily I believe that the visit underlined a key threat facing Britain, should Brexit go ahead. Trump’s admission that “everything is on the table” in future trade negotiations – including the NHS – was the most memorable aspect of his trip and will ring alarm bells across the country.
The USA will be a crucial trading partner for decades to come, but the notion that universal health care should be placed on the sacrificial altar of Brexit will appal many.
An NHS ravaged by US pharmaceutical giants will deal an irreparable blow to a service that should be free at the point of use.
My second reflection on his visit was that we must redouble our efforts in the fight against narrow-minded nationalism and bigotry. Even before he had touched down, the president was tweeting abusive missives at our elected Mayor of London.
It doesn’t take a “very stable genius” to understand why Trump specifically targets Sadiq Khan, and people everywhere must choose a side in a dispute that represents much more than a “war of words”.
However, as Sadiq says, if we are to ensure the relationship remains strong and mutually beneficial, we must feel empowered to tell our friends when our values diverge.
In that regard, I truly regret that a week has been spent pandering to Donald Trump, instead of forcefully taking him to task on climate change, women’s rights and so much more.
As Britain continues to decide its place in the world I hope we ultimately choose to settle on something more dignified than what this state visit represented.
TULIP SIDDIQ MP
Labour, Hampstead & Kilburn