[VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uBettl8AWQ ]
On 20th February 2017, the British Parliament kicked off their debate about a potential withdrawal of the official state visit invitation to President Donald Trump from Prime Minister Theresa May. This is in response to a petition that has 1.8 million signatures calling for the withdrawal. Concurrently, Parliament also debated upon a counter petition calling for the invitation to remain that has 114,ooo signatures. In the United Kingdom (UK) a petition requires at least 100,000 signatures for the petition to be debated upon in Parliament.
There was fervent debate throughout the session, with many MPs sounding out their outrage towards the controversial president. Words such as racist, sexist and bigot were rife throughout the session. However, May stood firm on her stance that the invitation could not be withdrawn as it would be strictly undiplomatic.
In this clip we see the questions to the Prime Minster segment of the debate. Here, MPs can ask the Prime Minister questions pertaining to the current debate. After the question is asked the Prime Minister will then have the opportunity to respond. Here, we start off with Labour Party (Main UK Opposition Party) Jeremy Corbyn highlighting the supposed atrocities carried out by Trump and hence he questions why May still refuses to withdraw the invitation. May replied with conviction citing how “the fine gentleman’s foreign policy is to object to the democratically elected leader of one of our greatest allies”. May is also accompanied by a chorus, that rang through out Parliament to highlight the inadequacies of the Labour Party (quite a sneaky move). She then ends her reply with “He can lead a protest, I’m leading a country!”
It was inspiring and invigorating. That reply was met with fervent applause and cheers throughout Parliament. However, this quotes is very clear of the stance May has towards Trump. She hints that while Corbyn can become the vanguard of the people she has the foresight to consider greater concerns about their relations with the United States (US). May recognizes the need for the UK to keep up good relations with the US to protect and serve their own interests. This is hence highlights a dilemma when it comes to modern politics. Should a politician do what is popular or what is beneficial to the country even if it could be unpopular?
May’s stance is clear but how will this affect her approval ratings among the British population? If the livelihoods of politicians depend on whether they are voted into government, wouldn’t this move be a setback for May? Consider the role of populism and good governance- can they every exist together? Or is that merely a Romantic dream?
Post By: Christine Ow