Will Donald Trumps visit be beneficial to the UK as it seeks to strengthen non-EU relations?
Alex Deane, a Conservative commentator, says YES.
The potential benefits of having the political leader of our most important ally and trading partner visit us are obvious. Given the importance of the US to our economy – they are our largest investor; we are theirs – to think otherwise is of course your right, but seems rather silly.
As the apex of any ongoing bilateral diplomatic exchange, state visits (and the underpinning work programme that goes with them) matter: its why we have them.
Sadly, even with the example of Paris having hosted the President so well, our mayor seems to think that wishing Donald Trump wasnt President makes it so. It is Sadiq Khans job to advance Londons standing. Instead, he puts one in mind of nothing so much as the precocious but rather pretentious sixth-form debater, who asks an ostentatiously rude question of the guest speaker so as to suggest parity between them.
The difference is that one may have sympathy with the sixth-former, as he will grow up one day.
Sir Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats and former secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, says NO.
This visit shows Britain as a supplicant, acting from weakness and growing isolation. We may have to deal with Donald Trump despite his misogynist and racist opinions, but we shouldnt delude ourselves with talk of a “special relationship”.
Trump oscillates between petty intransigence and alarming erraticism, and in neither mode is he susceptible to conventional diplomacy. There is precious little evidence, for example, that Emmanuel Macrons recent charm offensive has yielded results on the Iran nuclear deal or steel tariffs.
Instead of rolling out the red carpet, the government should set some clear red lines for any trade deal with the US – including upholding food standards and protecting our NHS. Yet the Prime Minister says they are waiting to find out what US “requirements” are for a deal, and Liam Fox has already indicated he has “no objection” to chlorinated chicken in the UK. In other words – with or without a visit – this is a deal on which Trump will tweet the terms.