Honouring D-Day landing with world leaders
I had reservations about whether President Trump should have been offered a State visit. But as his trip this week unfolded, and I watched the President respond gracefully as he was treated with such courtesy by The Queen, I realised that I had missed the point.
It was entirely appropriate to welcome a President of the United States, our most important ally, at any time, but no more so than on the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Of course there are concerns to address. We need to clarify that a trade deal with the US will not mean selling the NHS (it won’t). We have differences over our approach to Iran. The US has to be persuaded to act over climate change.
But you don’t have to like Mr Trump’s domestic politics to understand the importance of the Special Relationship with the US. Shouty Jeremy Corbyn, posturing Sadiq Khan and their yogurt-throwing protestors seemed small by comparison to the bigger principle.
It’s no surprise, of course, that Mr Corbyn, with his hostility to NATO, his instinctive support for terrorists and his animus towards America, should take a different view.
The Labour Leader, so fastidious in telling us that he would not attend dinner with the President, has had little trouble in meeting Hamas or the IRA in the past.
He couldn’t even be consistent with his snub. Even as he denounced the President, we learned that he had in fact sought a meeting with Mr Trump after all.
What Mr Corbyn has never understood is that the UK and the US have a common interest in keeping our countries safe and resisting aggression from hostile powers, a number of which are not democracies.
There could be no more powerful reminder of the point than when the President and 15 world leaders gathered in Portsmouth to honour D-Day, the largest combined land, air and naval operation in history.
They pledged to ensure that the “unimaginable horror” of the Second World War is not repeated. The ‘D-Day proclamation’ commits their nations to work together to “resolve international tensions peacefully”.
That’s hardly something to protest about. And over 4,000 men and women lost their lives at D-Day, many of them Americans. They were fighting for our freedom.
This is what we should remember when the President of the United States visits our country.
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