Despite petition, UK prepares royal welcome for Trump

The British government has formally rejected a petition calling for President Trump’s British state visit to be canceled or downgraded in formality.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters/File
British Prime Minister Theresa May and President Trump hold a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 27, 2017.

In a statement posted Tuesday, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office rejected an online petition requesting that the British government cancel or remove the official status of President Trump’s forthcoming state visit.

Rather than demanding an outright ban on Mr. Trump’s proposed visit, the petition had requested that his visit be downgraded from an official state visit, which would involve meeting with Queen Elizabeth and a formal state banquet in the Buckingham Palace Ballroom.

The petition states that Trump’s “well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales” and said that such a visit “would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.”

But despite having garnered more 1.8 million signatures – far beyond the 100,000 threshold which requires the subject be debated in Parliament – the government is simply not ready to threaten ties with its biggest ally.

The official response reads, “HM Government recognises the strong views expressed by the many signatories of this petition, but does not support this petition.”

The British government rejected the petition on the grounds that Prime Minister Theresa May had already invited Trump during her visit to the United States on Jan. 27 and planned to stand by that invitation as an indication of "the importance of the relationship between the United States of America and the United Kingdom." The date of the official visit has yet to be announced.

As the nation prepares for its “hard exit” from the European Union, Britain must negotiate new bi-lateral arrangements independently, something May is eager to hammer out with the US.

For his part, Trump lauded the Brexit vote in an interview with former British conservative leadership contender Micheal Gove, calling the decision “smart” and saying “people, countries, want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity,” according to The Guardian.

In a diplomatic gesture, the prime minister sent Trump a letter before her January visit that included a copy of Winston Churchill’s famous speech to the American people on Christmas Eve of 1941. In her letter, May reiterated that the “sense of unity and fraternal association between the United Kingdom and United States – is just as true today as it has ever been,” according to The New York Times.

For his part, Trump said he would return a bust of Winston Churchill to the Oval Office, a well-received action across the Atlantic.

A counterpetition, “Donald Trump should make a State Visit to the United Kingdom,” with more than 310,000 signatures, urged the government to roll out the welcome mat for Trump: 

“He is the leader of a free world, and U.K. is a country that supports free speech and does not believe that people that oppose our point of view should be gagged.”

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