The informal invitation for a formal State Visit to the UK that was given by the British prime minister to Donald Trump has roiled that country. A petition to not have the visit be a State Visit with a meeting with the Queen has already garnered nearly 1.9 million signatures and parliament will debate the petition on February 20. The petition states:
Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US Government, but he should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.
Donald Trump’s well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales. Therefore during the term of his presidency Donald Trump should not be invited to the United Kingdom for an official State Visit.
A counter petition has gathered just over 300,000 signatures.
Many are questioning why the invitation was issued so quickly. It may be that prime minister Theresa May wanted to ingratiate herself with Trump now that the UK may get more isolated with its coming exit from the European Union. The UK always prides itself on its ‘special relationship’ with the US though it often seemed like a subservient relationship, such as with Tony Blair being referred to as Bush’s poodle.
The speaker of the parliament John Bercow was a conservative MP before assuming the speaker’s position. Unlike the highly partisan speaker in the US House of Representatives, the UK position requires the occupant to demonstrate a certain degree of neutrality. He has said that he will not be inviting Trump to address parliament and in the clip below explains why.
Note at the very end, the praise given to the Speaker by the colorful, consistently and strongly progressive 84-year old Labour MP Dennis Skinner (nickname ‘the Beast of Bolsover’) who has been kicked out of the chamber many times. We last met him when the Speaker ordered him to leave for calling former prime minister David Cameron ‘Dodgy Dave’ and refusing to take it back. It was hilarious, like a Monty Python sketch, especially since Speaker Bercow looks and talks like Terry Jones.
The Speaker’s ruling against Trump is quite an insult and Trump has apparently responded to the snub in his typically childish ‘I never wanted to go there anyway’ style, saying that he just wants photo ops with British royalty and maybe play golf with the Queen! Also the article quotes a source as saying that Trump wants the visit to be “the full Monty”. One has to take such statements with a huge grain of salt. I doubt that even Trump thinks that the nonagenarian Queen plays golf now, if she ever did. Also, ever since the release of the film with that name in 1997 made the phrase identified with total nudity, the thought of Trump going ‘the full Monty’ is quite repellant.
Two words: “Well done!”
Over here, “going the full Monty” does frequently mean stripping to total nudity. But “doing” or “asking” or “getting” the full Monty in any other context usually just means “the full package”, “all the trimmings”, or “going all the way”. Though going all the way with Trump could also mean something quite abhorrent too.
One will note that the Tory MPs (the ones on the government benches to the speaker’s right hand), were both conspicuously light on the ground for this session and conspicuously silent in assenting to John Bercow’s words. I’m not sure quite what to make of that, apart from possibly noting that their leader, Theresa May, has shown a very unpopular degree of support for Trump these last few weeks, and they are in the awkward position of having to show support for her or support for overwhelming public opinion.
Marcus Ranum says
I’m not sure I’m a fan of this. It smacks of british classism more than of a principled stand. They’re basically saying he’s not good enough to meet with the queen. Well, the queen’s just the descendant of a bunch of Trump-like autocrats; he’s more of a kindred spirit than not.
Marcus, Marcus, Marcus. You’ve never had the slightest idea how to take advantage of divisions among your enemies, have you? (See your recent nonsense about Democrats and Republicans being “actually the same team, they just pretend to be on different sides about a few (very important) key points” for another recent example.)
BTW, I did sign the petition, despite the fact that embarrassment to the British monarchy is always a good thing, and that there would be considerable potential for amusement in the look of refined distate on Elizabeth Windsor’s face as she shakes hands with Trump without removing her glove, or of apoplectic rage on Trump’s if he is palmed off on Charles, who will lecture him about climate change. But the important point is that the petition, like Speaker Bercow’s words, drives the wedge of how to deal with Trump deeper into the UK establishement.
The wording is indeed unfortunate. But in this case “embarassing the Queen” can be taken to mean “embarassing the British nation”, given that we are talking about her qua official head of state rather than qua elderly aristocrat. British public culture tends to maintain the fiction that the queen embodies all of us in our relations with other countries -- we know it’s not true, but it’s a piece of ceremony that we’ve had for generations and quite frankly there are more important things to worry about than archaic language and customs.
I’m about as republican as they come (in the British sense of course), but I am more than willing to overlook monarchist language if it means contributing to an expression of dissatisfaction with something far worse than our ceremonial monarchy. So I signed the petition (for all its faults this was the one that was snowballing in popularity). I’d far rather send a strong message to our government that Trumpism is not welcome here than quibble over the wording.
Marcus, irrespective of the language that appears to elevate the queen as a superior being, the stand taken by the Speaker was very clearly based on matters of morality. He is identifying Trump as having repugnant qualities, and rebuking him on that basis.
My mental image of Donald Trump playing golf “with the Queen” is of her lying on her back with a tee in her mouth and him taking a swing at hear head with a driver like some kind of stereotypical mob boss putting one of his lackeys in their place.