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Labour MP Mike Gapes Labels May 'Theresa The Appeaser' Over Donald Trump State Visit

And Dennis Skinner accuses Government of walking 'hand-in-hand with a fascist'.

30/01/2017 17:44 | Updated 30 January 2017

A Labour MP has called the Prime Minister “Theresa the Appeaser” over granting Donald Trump a state visit, likening Theresa May to Neville Chamberlin’s appeasement of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

His comments were immediately condemned by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who said it was “distasteful” to compare a “great democracy” to “1930s tyrants”.

The exchange occurred during a feisty session in the House of Commons where Johnson was clarifying the impact of Trump’s Muslim-targeted travel ban on the UK. He told MPs that UK passport holders will not be hit by Trump’s immigration ban.

Parliament TV

In one of a series of flashpoints, the backbencher questioned why the newly inaugurated Trump had been granted a prestigious state visit, an honour bestowed upon US Presidents sparingly.

Gapes said:

“The US Embassy has a very important page on its website where it shows the list of Presidential visits to the United Kingdom.

“Can the Foreign Secretary confirm that George W Bush was President for more than two years before he made a state visit? That Barack Obama was President for more than two years?

“And that many previous Presidents have not had state visits at all, though they did visit this country in their duties? Why on earth has ‘Theresa the Appeaser’ got him here within a few months?”

MPs questioned whether the comments broke Commons rules, but Speaker Bercow ruled the remarks were “a matter of taste rather than order” and chose not to reprimand the MP. 

In response, Johnson said: “I do find it distasteful to make comparisons to the elected leader of a great democracy and 1930s tyrants. I think it is inappropriate.”

Elsewhere in the sessions, the Government was accused of walking “hand-in-hand” with a “fascist”. 

Veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner told the Commons he had once hid under the stairs while fascists dropped bombs, adding:

“Would the Foreign Secretary try to recall along with me as I hid under the stairs when two fascist dictators Mussolini and Hitler were raining bombs on towns and cities in Britain?

“Now this government is hand-in-hand with another fascist – Trump. What I say to him is do the decent thing and ban the visit! This man is not fit to walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela.”

Johnson responded:

“The honourable member’s memory must be at fault if he thinks Mussolini rained bombs on this country.

“I hear the comparison that he makes, I don’t accept that comparison.

“I believe it’s in our interests to work with our American friends and partners, to show our disquiet when that is appropriate and to get the best deal for UK nationals and dual nationals.”

Trump’s state visit to the UK has been come under the microscope, with more than one million people signing a petition calling for it to be scrapped.

One aspect of the visit which has been singled out as being unacceptable by many MPs is the US President giving a speech in Westminster Hall. 

The Hall is the oldest part of Parliament, and was built in 1097. It is steeped in history, hosting numerous coronation banquets and been the location for the lying in state of monarchs and national icons such as Sir Winston Churchill.

Addressing members of the Commons and the Lords in Westminster Hall is a rare privilege, and only six people have ever been awarded such an honour, including Nelson Mandela.

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