U.K. Lawmakers May Boycott Trump Speech, Labour’s McDonnell Says

  • ‘I don’t think it will just be Labour,’ finance spokesman says
  • More than 1.8 million people sign petition to scrap visit

U.K. lawmakers from all parties may boycott U.S. President Donald Trump if he’s invited to address Parliament during a planned state visit later this year, lawmaker John McDonnell, a key ally of opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, said.

While details including date and itinerary have yet to be set, visitors such as Trump’s predecessors Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan have been invited to address both houses of Parliament at Westminster, as have former South African President Nelson Mandela, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Asked in a BBC radio interview whether there would be “rows of empty seats where Labour should be sitting” if Trump were accorded the honor, McDonnell said, “I don’t think it will just be Labour.”

“I find it a disgrace what he’s done so far. Most of us thought that his campaign slogans were slogans but now he’s implementing them as policies,” McDonnell, the party’s finance spokesman, said. “I think there will be lots of people offended by his visit.”

Prime Minister Theresa May extended the invitation to Trump last month when she became the first foreign leader to meet him as president. It prompted a backlash domestically, where even May has described Trump’s policies as “divisive.” Parliament on Feb. 20 will debate an online public petition calling for the visit to be canceled, after it drew more than 1.8 million signatures.

Such visits take place on a personal invitation from Queen Elizabeth II, though it’s the government that recommends them. They traditionally include a horse-drawn procession, a state banquet and a stay at either Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle.

“He is really reveling in that idea he is going to Buckingham Palace and meeting the Queen,” McDonnell said. “I just don’t feel he is the sort of person at the moment though, that his statements and actions deserve that.

McDonnell added: “It’s the state visit angle of it -- a state visit is an honor. A normal visit is a working thing which is fair enough, you need to have these relations with whoever is elected.”

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