Welcome Mr President!
Air Force One has officially landed on UK shores for US President Donald Trump’s three-day state visit, during which he’ll meet with members of the Royal family and chat to the outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May about climate change and cybersecurity.
Before the wheels had even hit the tarmac, Trump was already sending for Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, for being a “stone cold loser,” who should “focus on crime in London” after the Labour Party politician criticised the rolling out of the red carpet for the US President. “Er, excuse me Mr Trump,” sincere twitter collectively quote tweeted, “where’s the statesmanship, the eloquence the dignity?!”
Despite the inflating of the banterous baby blimp and the readying of the ‘cockwomble tango twazzock’ placards, Trump actually finds himself visiting a country not too dissimilar from his own. Here’s a helpful list of 5 archaic practices in the UK that will make him feel right at home.
DETENTION AND DEPORTATION
The draconian measures in place to stop absolutely anyone from entering the US are carried out by its Immigration and Customs Enforcement body (ICE), formed in 2003 as a reactionary precaution following 9/11. ICE has hit the headlines of late centring around its heavy-handed approach, criticisms of racial profiling, and their policy of separating children from parents at the border. Trump signed an executive order in 2017 to increase ICE staff by 10,000 and also expanded the group’s powers. The official Homeland Security website claims that 256,085 “aliens” were “removed” from the country in 2018 alone.
May herself is no stranger to archaic immigration practices. As home secretary she created a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants, authorising the roll out of vans to areas of London with high migration carrying banners that literally told people to go home: “In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest.” Not much changed after she moved into the top job in 2016. Taken over by Amber Rudd, who has since resigned over a succession of enormous fuck ups, the Home Office continued its racist agenda, most notably in the form of the Windrush scandal in which at least 83 people were wrongly deported and 11 died as a result. Welcome to the US of K baby!
.@SadiqKhan, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly “nasty” to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2019
ARCHAIC ABORTION LAWS
Abortion bans with varying levels of severity are currently sweeping across the United States – Alabama recently introduced a near total ban (except if the mother’s life is at risk) even for those seeking the procedure after a rape or incest, and in Texas hardcore “pro-lifers” genuinely want to kill mothers for terminating pregnancies after tabling a bill that would allow the death penalty for unauthorised abortions. Georgia also recently joined the country’s anti-abortion wave, passing a “heartbeat bill” in early May that renders abortion after 6 weeks illegal, despite many women not being able to detect their pregnancy until long after this window.
While Ireland voted to repeal the 8th amendment, which gave an unborn foetus equal rights to its mother, Northern Ireland is still trapped long in the past by its laws which are among the strictest in the world and more restrictive than most of the legislation in being passed in the US. Many of the laws passed in the states are yet to be implemented – Georgia’s is planned to come into force in January 2020 and is expected to face fierce opposition in the highest courts – but people in Northern Ireland have been facing an absolute ban from the moment of conception since 1861 and if violated can face life imprisonment.
THE WORLD IS BURNING BUT WE DON’T CARE
Trump famously doesn’t give a shit about climate change, even though its causing parts of California to repeatedly catch fire. In 2017 he pulled out of the Paris Agreement – a pact between the world’s major nations to keep the planet’s temperature from increasing 2 per cent above pre-industrial levels – despite the fact that the US is the second largest contributor to carbon emissions by country. Good!
The UK Parliament was the first in the world to announce a climate emergency (actually good!), thanks in part to the action by Extinction Rebellion activists who clogged London’s major road networks for 10 days in April, but the government has been consistently missing all of its climate change targets for years (not good). According to the Committee on Climate Change – the body formed to oversee the country’s legally binding commitment to cut carbon emissions by 80 per cent before 2050 – the UK is failing to tackle the issue on almost all of its key measurements. Luckily we have a whole 12 years to sort it out.
LGBTQ+ EQUALITY IS A LONG WAY OFF
The US has a truly horrifying record of violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ communities that continues right up to the present day. The 2016 shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in which 49 innocent people were killed, serves as a truly horrific reminder that equality is a long way off. Trump is not helping to sow these divisions. Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court allowed the President’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, following his announcement in twitter in 2017 that the US army “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
Discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in the US is enshrined in law almost on the daily. The American Civil Liberties Union has a list on their website updated weekly of legislation discriminating against LGBTQ+ rights across the country, with over 140 pieces of legislation listed as having passed this year alone.
It’s well documented that Theresa May has repeatedly voted against LGBTQ+ rights during the course of her career (as this gruesome appearance on Question Time painfully illustrates), including voting twice against the repealing of section 28 – an amendment banning local authorities and schools from “promoting” homosexuality – and in 2002 when she voted against a measure allowing same sex couples to adopt. Sadly, as in the US, the UK government still holds homophobic views right at its core. Current Tory leadership hopeful Esther McVey only very recently remarked that parents should be able to decide if their children are taught about same-sex relationships in sex education. “Parents know best for their children,” she said, adding that parents should have “the final say” over what their children are taught in school. She could conceivably become the prime minister this month which is good!
THE FAR RIGHT IS THRIVING
Over in the States, the far-right are in government. Fascist groups across the country feel legitimised by Trump’s rule – perhaps most outwardly during the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, where white supremacists and neo-fascists took to the streets carrying semi-automatic rifles and Nazi symbols, chanting racist slogans.
Unfortunately, figures like Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson still garner large support in the UK. Robinson did lose his deposit in the European elections for not getting enough votes, and was repeatedly milkshaked on his campaign trail, but Farage’s newly-formed Brexit Party came out as the overall winner of the election with 29 MEPs, more than any other UK Party. The appetite for ruddy-faced bigotry in the UK appears to be as ferocious as ever, so welcome Mr Trump, you should feel right at home.