President Trump State Visit to the UK - February 2017

Whilst the election of Donald Trump has not been welcomed by everybody, we must accept that he was democratically elected by the people of America. He won on a platform that appealed to a large number of voters. His decision to sign an Executive Order to exclude foreign nationals from seven Muslim countries from entering the United States is not something I agree with - and neither does the British Government - but it should not come as a surprise as it is what he said he would do. If the policy is allowed to continue, I believe it will be counter-productive as it is likely to act as a recruiting sergeant for terrorist organisations but immigration policy in the United States is a matter for the government of the United States, just as immigration policy in this country is decided by our government. 
 
Any invitation for a state visit is awarded to the Head of State, not to the individual. Regardless of who is the elected US President, the United Kingdom has a close working relationship with that person. The UK often hosts the leaders of much more unpleasant regimes - many of whom are unelected - without any protest. If the UK barred the US President whilst rolling out the red carpet for people including Xi Jinping of China, former President Yudhoyono of Indonesia, the Emir of Kuwait and Singapore's President Tan - all of whom were hosted by Speaker John Bercow - it would send some very perverse signals. Indeed, many of my constituents and myself are prevented from entering a number of countries due to having visited Israel but we do not ban those nations' leaders.

Withdrawing the invitation to visit the UK would simply mean that areas of policy in which we disagreed, such as the travel ban, would continue unchecked. We engage with leaders and governments with whom we do not agree in order to try and influence and persuade them to the contrary.

Politics, as in life, means sometimes engaging with people who have different views, values and priorities. Our alliance with the United States is vitally important. On defence, intelligence and security we work more closely than any other two countries in the world. It therefore is my view - and that of the Government - that it is right that the new President of our closest ally should be accorded a state visit just like other presidents before him.

Indeed, I believe that the UK's relationship with the new US President can only improve on the last incumbent of the White House. As we exit the European Union we need to engage with President Trump, find common areas of interest, let him know when we do not agree with him and build a consensus that is good for the whole world.

A debate in Parliament on the issue has now been scheduled for 20th February 2017.