Donald Trump's border policy and visit to the UK

January 2017

I have received many emails and letters about Donald Trump covering his travel ban policy and his state visit to the UK planned for later this year.

Travel Ban

Donald Trump has signed a 90-day travel ban to the US by nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries:  Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The justification for the changes was to defend America against terrorism and to give US government agencies time to develop stricter vetting systems for refugees.

I don't agree with the travel ban.  I don't think blanket bans on whole nations are effective in countering terrorism.  Intelligence efforts should instead be focused on individuals or groups of individuals rather than whole nations.  The move seems to be more political posturing than evidence based policy.  Of course America has the right to decide its' own border control policies, but I think this travel ban will soon be recognised as a bad decision on legal, ethical and practical grounds. 

These changes will impact many innocent people and even people who have been serving alongside the US's own armed forces in countering terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere.

The impact will be long lasting, for example, it has already jeopardised Los Angeles' chances of winning the rights to host the 2024 Olympic games.  The International Olympic Committee can hardly award the games to a host nation that currently has a ban on allowing people from participating nations to enter the country - including athletes.

State Visit to the UK

Donald Trump has been invited to come to the UK later this year on an official state visit.  He has accepted this invitation.

That more than one million people have signed the petition calling for Donald Trump's invitation to be rescinded speaks volumes about the strength of feeling on the issue. 

But I don't think we should stop the state visit.  I think Donald Trump should come to the UK and the British people will have the right to demonstrate their anger and frustration towards him and his policies in a peaceful but clear manner during that visit. 

State visits are important symbolic events that signal the relationship between two nations not just two individuals and there is much to celebrate about the UKs relationship with the USA in terms of our history and our ongoing economic, social and cultural affinity.  We've had a strong and close 'special relationship' for decades and we need to make sure that relationship continues long after Mr Trump has left office.  

I think it is important to remember than Donald Trump is just one man.  There are 325 million Americans and 300,000 Americans live in the UK.  Donald Trump does not speak for every American, but 63 million Americans voted for him in a free and fair election and he is the Head of State of our most powerful ally. 

As we plan to leave the EU we must also do everything we can to secure good trade deals with other friendly nations and the US will be a pivotal player in our international trade in the future - as it has been in the past.  The state visit will provide an opportunity for the UK and the US to further strengthen our relationship but it should not be interpreted as condoning everything the President says or does.  In fact, it would give us a further opportunity to voice any concerns.