President Trump’s Visit

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 28th June 2019.

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Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

Do you agree that President Trump’s recent state visit to the United Kingdom was a most excellent success?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Thank you, Chair. No. Donald Trump is the poster boy for a global far-right movement, alongside people like Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Matteo Salvini in Italy, Marine Le Pen in France and Nigel Farage here. They are using the same methods from the old far-right playbook, picking on minority communities and the marginalised to manufacture an enemy, fabricating lies to stoke up fear and promoting hatred of immigrants, sympathy for white nationalism and attacks on women’s reproductive rights, and rolling back the progress made on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and others’ (LGBT+) rights. That is why we should not have rolled out the red carpet, held a state banquet and spent millions of pounds on a formal state visit for such a divisive President.

We should remember that this is a man who has repeatedly made sexist and derogatory comments about women, suggested that women who seek abortions should face - and I quote - “some form of punishment”, implemented immigration policies that have led to the separation of children from their families, defended white supremacists, anti-Semites and far-right nationalists, tried to ban people from entering the United States (US) simply because of the religion they practice, threatened to veto a ban on the use of rape as a weapon of war, deliberately used xenophobia, racism and otherness as electoral tactics, and only last weekend amplified the racist tweet of a far-right activist in Britain. This behaviour, Chair, flies in the face of the ideals the US was founded upon: equality, liberty and religious freedom.

Rather than bestowing Donald Trump with a state visit, the Government should have used a working visit as an opportunity to speak out and to say that Trump’s views are incompatible with British values and that they pose a grave threat to the principles we have fought hard to defend, often together with the US, for decades.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

Mr Mayor, you are absolutely wrong about President Trump.  President Trump is one of the greatest Presidents of the United States, in fact on a par with President Reagan, and it was absolutely right for Her Majesty the Queen ‑‑

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

No, Assembly Member Kurten, you can stop and then, when people are quiet, you can continue.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

We will keep doing this until we show the Assembly Member the respect that he is due.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

Thank you, Chair. It was absolutely right that Her Majesty The Queen and the PM invited President Trump as the President of the United States and one of the greatest Presidents to come to this country. The majority of Londoners and the majority of people in this country were proud to welcome him. The only fly in the ointment in his wonderful visit was when you, Mr Mayor, decided for no reason whatsoever just to put an article in the Observer the day before he came. It was very rude to the President of the United States and it was wrong to do that. When the Queen and the PM have decided to roll out the red carpet, it is wrong of a lesser official to go against them.

I do need to ask you about some of the things that you wrote in your article. One of the things you said was that you accused the President of interfering shamelessly in the Conservative Party leadership race by backing Boris Johnson [MP]. That is not entirely accurate. He called Boris Johnson his friend. He called Nigel Farage, another great man, his friend as well. However, you, Mr Mayor, in 2016 interfered in the American presidential election when you backed the loser, Hillary Clinton, brazenly and openly.

Is it not hypocritical in a sense for you to accuse the President of doing something that you have done yourself?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

I will show the Assembly Member, my critic, more respect than Donald Trump shows his critics.  I have heard you out. I think you are wrong.

Look, we have a rich history of being a country that is a beacon for human rights, for civil liberties, for women’s rights and for standing up to white nationalists. One of the things about Donald Trump is that he is the President of our closest ally. A special relationship is akin to having someone who is your best friend and that means of course you stand with them at times of adversity, but when you think they are wrong you have to be candid and say, “Listen, you are wrong”.

I will remind you of this. Your hero defended white supremacists at Charlottesville [Virginia]. He gave equivalence to white supremacists, anti-Semites and anti-racism campaigners, one of whom lost their life. He is a poster boy for racists. He amplifies the tweets of racists. I want nothing to do with him.

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

Mr Mayor, you are spinning false narratives there. You are saying that you are now a friend of the US.  I wonder. With friends like you, there is not much need for enemies.

What you have said is that we should not be rolling out the red carpet for President Trump, but you have rolled out the red carpet for a number of ambassadors of countries that have terrible records on human rights. In an event upstairs here, you rolled out the red carpet for the ambassadors of Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sudan and Yemen, countries that all have travel bans on Israeli citizens.  Iran itself is terrible with human rights. In fact, if you are a woman in Iran and you decide not to wear a hijab, you can get put in prison, but you have never said anything about that. That is far worse than anything that you may accuse President Trump of falsely.

What do you have to say about the Iranian regime throwing women in prison if they decide not to wear a hijab?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Chair, just to clarify, I have not invited anybody to London for a state visit, let alone to City Hall. That is just factually incorrect.  I do not have the power to do so. The objection I have to Donald Trump is the state visit. I have no objection at all to having a close working relationship with Donald Trump. In fact, in my answer I made it quite clear ‑‑

Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

You have avoided answering the question directly, but you did say similar things when he came for a working visit last year [2018] and so it does not seem that your answer is particularly correct historically. Unfortunately, I am out of time.  I wish I had more than six minutes to question you. It has, as always, been a pleasure, Mr Mayor, but I will have to hand back to the Chair.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

Thank you. The next question in the name of Assembly Member Boff is withdrawn for a written reply.