Don’t normally read the Daily Mail, though do take the Mail on Sunday, along with the Telegraph. But did buy today’s copy - to take advantage of a very generous free gift offer of an Airfix kit. Anyway, it was first time for months that I’ve read anything written by Peter Oborne, who used to write for Spectator and Telegraph. Top class columnist. Always worth a read. Headline today read - “The stench of Labour’s hysteria and hypocrisy over Trump”. Like anyone writing anything which can be read as being on Trump’s side, he has to begin by setting out his opinion of the US President, which I repeat here. “Trump is a narcissistic and absurd figure. He is a racist who retweeted videos posted by Britain First, a fascist organisation that all decent people condemn.”
But he does not, and nor do I agree with the campaign to prevent President Trump visiting the UK. The public attitude of the Mayor of London is particularly short-sighted. Anyone would think he was mid election campaign, when irresponsible attitudes are sometimes struck. Absolutely not protecting the interests of London. And same goes for a whole lot of others who are keen to be seen as ‘virtuous’ by parading their distaste of Trump. Actually, I have little criticism of those who are not in positions of influence wanting no contact with Trump. Every right to express their opinions. Makes little difference on the international politics plain. It’s the rank hypocrisy of opposition leaders that I find so utterly nauseating.
First time I was faced with this sort of choice personally was when Xi Jinping was accorded the honour of speaking in Westminster Hall, as great a privilege as Parliament can offer. Despite Xi making Trump look like and “hand-wringing Liberal” - in Oborne’s words. But of course Xi is totally inscrutable, impressively polite, charm personified and very skilled at manipulating public opinion. I went because a good relationship with China is hugely important to the UK, to our economy and our security. The Leader of the opposition even wore his white tie and tails to attend a state banquet for President Xi at Buckingham Palace. He was right to do so.
Same attitude will be important when Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmon visits us this summer. Another who makes Trump look like a “hand-wriggling Liberal”. I will treat him as an honoured guest as well, despite the terrible happenings in Yemen. There have been many other high profile visits from leaders who have committed deeply unsavoury acts. It’s always been thus. Across the Channel, President Macron welcomed President Trump with great pomp, while the French people accepted the importance to French jobs and French security. Generally, the whole of French politics accepted this.
I cannot defend the drivel that the President of the United States, the country which is our most important friend and allay in this unstable world tweets on his Twitter account. But I know it’s crucial for the UK to work for a good relationship with the individual the American people voted to be their President. It matters for the British economy and British security. In fact, the Opposition leaders like Khan and Corbyn know it too. Which makes their public utterances all the more unworthy of their office.