I'd Have Donald Round For Tea

31/01/2017 12:29 GMT | Updated 01/02/2018 10:12 GMT
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I don't like him. I don't like what he says. I don't like what he stands for. I don't even like the colour of his skin (which I hope doesn't make me a racist). But I'd have him round for tea, but then being British I'd probably have most people round for tea.

The word 'appeasement' is being banded around a lot currently; and given Europe's history of shouty media-hogs with small features and a penchant for power, then perhaps you can understand why. However, I'm not sure having Donald Trump round for a State Visit quite qualifies as appeasement - yet.

Appeasement obviously has a deservedly bad track record in 20th and 21st century politics; but then so does 'no-platforming'. I struggle to recall the last internationally disruptive force who was quelled because they weren't invited round to a shindig. History tells us when we disengage from populist or authoritarian government's they normally get worse rather than better.

The fact is politics means shaking hands with arseholes, even if it gets your hands dirty. Deals are made round tables; and like it or loathe it, we need a good deal with America. It matters to our trade, defence, intelligence sharing and so on. We will not get that by not returning his calls, or by not inviting him to our party.

That does not mean we have to agree with everything Mr Trump says, nor does it mean we can't call him out when he is doing things we don't agree with. Mrs May has rightly questioned the recent travel ban, and stated that a reintroduction of waterboarding would compromise intelligence sharing with the United States.

We have to ask ourselves whether we think we'd have more influence, if anyone indeed can, over The Donald by being relatively close to him or by blanking him. The answer, I'm afraid, is the former. It does not mean we have to be best mates, we've had state visits from China (2015), Saudi Arabia (2007), Russia (2003) in the past that have not meant we suddenly kotow to their regimes.

I'd suggest that putting him under the laser stare of Elizabeth Regina II (after he's shared a blue joke or two with Phil) will probably be more impactful than ignoring him. I do not envy the Queen having to make polite conversation over scones with him, but we cannot deny that our Royal Family confers some celebrity status (which he loves) and therefore some leverage.

I did not go on the march this week, not because I agree with the Trump travel plan (which I absolutely do not), but because Britain will succeed through engagement. For the Government to suddenly change its mind now would be to cave to the kind of populist pressure that has put Mr Trump in power. It's not the easy thing to do, it's not the fun thing to do, but the Prime Minister needs to grin and bear it.