Protesters Greet Trump During The 2nd Day Of His U.K. Visit

Jun 4, 2019
Originally published on June 5, 2019 4:41 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Trump is being politely received inside ceremonial buildings as he makes a state visit to the U.K. Out on the streets of London, of course, there's the balloon - giant balloon of the president made to resemble a baby. The president is as controversial in London as anywhere else, and he has not resisted the urge to comment on British politics and Brexit.

Critics of the president in London include David Lammy, a member of Parliament in the opposition Labour Party who attended marches against the president on his last visit to Britain. And he's on the line. Welcome back to the program, sir.

DAVID LAMMY: Thank you very much. Great to join you.

INSKEEP: Are you marching this time?

LAMMY: I will be marching, and I will be speaking to the gathered audience just outside Parliament later on today who are protesting Donald Trump's visit here to the U.K. and having a state visit in the way that he is.

INSKEEP: What more can be said about President Trump, for him or against him, than has already been said?

LAMMY: Well, look, I think that there is in Britain, as there is in the United States, the great tradition of protest if you believe that an individual stands against your values. And with Donald Trump, I mean, where to begin? There are massive foreign policy issues that we're concerned about. He's described NATO as obsolete, which was one of the most effective means of keeping peace here in Europe after the Second World War. He started a trade war with China. He's skeptical of climate change and has taken the U.S. out of the Paris accords. He has basically ended all the attempts that - to create a deal with Iran over their nuclear capabilities. So there's a range of foreign policy issues.

Then, of course, there are key domestic policy issues which put him on the hard right of the political spectrum, whether it's his treatment of Muslims in terms of his Muslim ban, whether it's his desire to build a wall and to describe Mexicans as rapists, whether it's his treatment of women historically, his behavior in relation to...

INSKEEP: Let me...

LAMMY: ...African Americans and rolling back...

INSKEEP: Let me just stop you, Mr. Lammy. You...

LAMMY: The list goes on.

INSKEEP: Yeah, you - yeah...

LAMMY: And for all those reasons, people are protesting (laughter).

INSKEEP: Yeah, we've giving you time for quite a long list there. I'm sure you could have doubled the length. But I'm just going over some of those issues and wondering - think about NATO, for example. The president has been critical of NATO, has suggested he wouldn't defend some NATO allies and yet has also pressed the alliance to contribute more - the alliance members to contribute more to their own defense. You think about China, where you can say the president's strategy is bad. But there are a lot of people around the world concerned about the direction of China. Is it possible the president has a few things right, even if you massively disagree with the way he speaks?

LAMMY: Well, his approval ratings here in the U.K. are lower than any president on record. I think 86% of the British population last polled disagree with him. On things like NATO, he said, why is the U.S. paying for 90% of NATO? Well, this is where Donald Trump appears to be someone who plays hard and fast with the truth. In fact, the United States pays 22% of NATO's common fund. So some of this is also about the character of this individual and why I think so many people in the U.K. want to protest him arriving here.

INSKEEP: He is...

LAMMY: But it's important to say two things. The first thing is a state visit, all the panoplies of state, the royal family, this is not afforded to every U.S. president. And it's most often afforded to a president in their second term. So of course he should be coming here, or he could be coming here. But it's the nature in which he's arriving, which is Theresa May deciding he should have a state visit and affording him that...

INSKEEP: As one of her last acts as prime minister, of course. Now, it is interesting the...

LAMMY: And he comes here - it's - the other point I want to make, he comes here at a point when Britain is weakened because of these Brexit negotiations. He says blindly we can get a trade deal when it's clear that Congress would oppose a trade deal on the basis of a no-deal Brexit because it would really cause problems in the island of Ireland and the border in Ireland. So again...

INSKEEP: Well, let's...

LAMMY: ...We come back to truth and his character.

INSKEEP: Well, let's be clear on what the president has said. He's been on Twitter saying a thing he's said before, that once Brexit is done, he wants to do a free trade deal with Britain. He tweeted yesterday, big trade deal is possible once U.K. gets rid of the shackles. You are arguing that a big trade deal is not so possible, I think.

LAMMY: Well, it's not just me. I think it's members of Congress that have made clear that it depends on the terms of Britain's exit of the European Union. And I think most Americans would not countenance Britain causing significant problems in Ireland. So a trade deal is not straightforward and I suspect would take many, many years to negotiate.

I think the other thing we're not keen on is Donald Trump deciding that he'd quite like Boris Johnson to be the next prime minister and naming one of the candidates that's now competing to replace Theresa May. That is just not appropriate diplomatically. He should not be meddling in U.K. politics to that degree.

INSKEEP: He's also a fan of Nigel Farage, the head of the Brexit party which just did well in European elections.

LAMMY: And this is where we see that Donald Trump is in alliance with Nigel Farage. He - Steve Banyon (ph), who of course worked for Donald Trump, has been in alliance with Le Pen in France, with Salvini and others. These are far-right figures across the world. And because of what we saw in Charlottesville, there are many, many people who experienced the war in Britain who want to oppose Donald Trump and recognize the danger that potentially he and his like poses to the democratic free world.

INSKEEP: Mr. Lammy, it was a pleasure talking with you again. Thanks so much.

LAMMY: Thank you.

INSKEEP: David Lammy is a member of the British Parliament from the Labour Party talking with us as President Trump continues a state visit to the U.K. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.