Scotland’s first minister urges Theresa May to speak up against the US president’s policies and the values they have exposed
Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said that Donald Trump’s UK state visit ought to be cancelled while travel bans are in place as she called on the prime minister to speak up more strongly against the values that the US president’s policies have exposed.
Speaking after a one-to-one meeting with Theresa May that took place before the meeting of the joint ministerial committee in Cardiff, Sturgeon said she told the prime minister she should voice concerns about Trump more forcefully.
The Scottish National party leader told the Guardian: “I said that while everybody understands that she wants to build a constructive relationship, that relationship has to be based on values. I think many people would like to hear a stronger view from the UK government about the immigrant and refugee ban that was announced.
“I also said that I don’t think it would be appropriate in these circumstances for the state visit to go ahead while these bans are in place given the understandable concern that people have about them and the messages they send and the impact they have.”
Asked if May had been too quick to travel to the US to meet Trump, Sturgeon said: “She’s the prime minister of the UK. Everybody would understand she wants to build a positive relationship with the president of the United States. As first minister of Scotland I want to build a constructive relationship with the new administration. I’m not criticising her for that. But relationships have to be based on values.
“We’ve all got a duty to speak up for fundamental values. There’s a real concern on the part of many that introducing what is seen by many as a ban on Muslims, banning people because of their origin or faith, is deeply wrong and likely to be counterproductive in terms of the fight we all have an interest in against extremism and terrorism.
“In terms of the refugee ban, that in my view would go against the international obligations in terms of the Geneva convention and the moral obligation we all have to deal with the refugee crisis.”
Acknowledging that May had raised the point that these were matters for the US government, Sturgeon said: “But these are issues that start to touch on moral issues that go beyond individual countries policies. And we all have a duty in these instances to speak up when we consider values that we all hold dear to be under threat. As I said to the prime minister I think a lot of people would like to see her say something much more strong along those lines.”
She added: “Morality is something we all have to judge for ourselves. I think there’s a very strong body of opinion across the UK. Nobody is suggesting the president of American can’t come to the UK nor is anyone suggesting a state visit is not appropriate at some stage but while these bans that have caused so much concern are in place it would be inappropriate for the state visit to proceed. It would be better to reconsider the timing of it.”
Asked if she would meet Trump in Scotland, Sturgeon said: “The relationship between Scotland and America is important. I’m not going to start getting into refuse meeting people but nor am I going to maintain diplomatic silences over things that are really important in a values and principles sense.”