Trump’s State Visit- Stoking Nationalistic Flames

Large protests are planned as the highly contentious US President, Donald Trump arrives for a state visit in the UK. Trump will be a guest of the Queen during a three day stay culminating  in a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-day.  Trump is seen as a main figurehead in the increasing popularity of right wing politics in western nations. Just days before his visit in an interview with the Sun, Trump backed Boris Johnson to become the next Prime Minister after Theresa May steps down, defying diplomatic convention in that political leaders should not weigh in on domestic policies of nations prior to state visits.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has compared language used by Trump to that of fascists of the 20th century. Khan highlighted Trump’s centrality to growing separatist movements as he stated, “President Donald Trump is just one of the most egregious examples of a growing global threat. The far right is on the rise around the world, threatening our hard-won rights and freedoms and the values that have defined our liberal, democratic societies for more than 70 years”.

Jo Swinson, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said on Trump’s support of Johnson, “It should come as no surprise that Donald Trump backs Boris, they’re both unqualified to lead, both revel in offending people and both represent the strain of nationalism and populism that we need a liberal movement to stand up to.”

Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Matteo Salvini in Italy, Marine Le Pen in France and Nigel Farage here in the UK, are using the same divisive tropes to garner support, but with new sinister methods to deliver their message. They are gaining ground and winning power and influence in places that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, with such movements now moving into the centre ground of politics. In UK politics, the British National Party were never seen as main political party, as they were widely viewed as extreme.  However subsequent rebrands from UKIP now to the Brexit Party, headed up by Nigel Farage, saw this movement gain considerable political traction with the Brexit Party winning half the seats in the European elections. Trump’s presence in the UK will certainly be well supported by the far-right during his visit as they hope to emulate his and the rise into mainstream politics, and the rise of the far-right with him.

This is a man who also tried to exploit Londoners’ fears following a horrific terrorist attack on our city, amplified the tweets of a British far-right racist group, denounced as fake news the robust scientific evidence about climate change. He is now trying to interfere shamelessly in the Conservative party leadership race by backing Boris Johnson because he believes it would enable him to gain an ally in Number 10 for his divisive agenda. On Saturday, Trump defied diplomatic convention which dictates that leaders do not weigh in to the domestic politics of other nations, particularly ahead of visits, by backing Johnson to succeed Theresa May in an interview with the Sun.

Organisers of the protests on Tuesday say they will register their anger both against Trump and his wider views, including those on Brexit, which the US president has made clear he supports. Alena Ivanova, a campaign organiser for Another Europe is Possible, said: “Tuesday’s protests aren’t just about Trump, they’re about Trumpism – a politics of racism and bigotry. Trump is part of a global nationalist surge, and Brexit and its cheerleaders are the British franchise of it. Like Trump, Brexit is a threat to our basic rights and freedoms, and promises a future of division, despair and rightwing economics.”

At least 250,000 people are expected to turn out in central London at 11am, on a route between Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, when Trump meets Theresa May in Downing Street.