Greenwich councillors are set to call on the government to cancel Donald Trump’s planned state visit to the UK – and declare that the US president will not be welcome in the borough.
A Labour motion has been submitted to next week’s full council meeting demanding Trump’s visit be blocked following his use of Twitter to endorse the anti-Islam views of a fringe UK far-right organisation, Britain First.
It criticises the Republican’s “bigoted attitude towards women and ethnic minorities which has resulted in hatred and division in the USA”.
Last week, Trump provoked universal criticism in the UK by retweeting several videos posted by the organisation’s deputy leader, including one which falsely claimed to depict a Muslim boy attacking a youth on crutches.
When he was publicly rebuked by Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump used his keyboard to respond again, declaring May should “focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism [sic] that is taking place within the United Kingdom”.
Among the critics was Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook, who said: “Enough is enough… the Prime Minister must cancel it. Simple as that.”
Enough is enough. Trump was offered a state visit with unseemly haste. After the events of the past 24 hours the idea it can go ahead is preposterous. The Prime Minister must cancel it. Simple as that.
— Matthew Pennycook MP (@mtpennycook) November 30, 2017
London mayor Sadiq Khan has also called for the visit to be cancelled. Veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn declared the president should be arrested for racial hatred if he set foot in the UK.
The motion, put forward by council leader Denise Hyland and 12 colleagues, reads:
This Council notes with alarm the decision by Donald Trump, President of the United States to ‘retweet’ Islamophobic propaganda from the Britain First Twitter account.
Council further notes with sadness the President’s bigoted attitude towards women and ethnic minorities which has resulted in examples of division and hatred within the USA.
As such, Council calls upon the Government to abandon plans to invite Donald Trump on a State visit to the UK.
Council further calls upon the government to use funding that would have been spent on Security for such a state visit to fund charities such as the Jo Cox Foundation that promote peace and understanding.
Council notes the positive impact of the work it has undertaken with The Greenwich Inclusion Project; Greenwich Action for Voluntary Services; faith groups and community groups throughout the Royal Borough. As such, Council reiterates its commitment to working with residents to strengthen community relations.
Council notes with regret that this Borough’s commitment to maintaining a strong and vibrant community is incompatible with the ideology and policies espoused by President Trump.
As such, should the Government choose go ahead with State Visit, this Council makes clear that President Trump would not be welcome in the Borough.
While there is still no date set for a state visit, a “working visit” to London is reportedly planned to take place at the end of February to coincide with the opening of the new US Embassy at Nine Elms.
The motion is almost certain to sail through, but one question will be whether the Conservatives oppose it or abstain. While Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Trump was “wrong” to have retweeted the videos, she urged critics to see “the bigger picture” in US/UK relations.
The meeting will also feature a Tory motion calling on London mayor Sadiq Khan to abandon plans to expand the Ultra Low Emissions Zone to the South Circular – a motion certain to fall, as council policy is to demand its extension to the Greater London boundary.
Got a question to ask Greenwich Council (you can ask up to two)? You can email them to committees[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk by noon on Wednesday for a response from the relevant cabinet member. (More details.)