London council votes in favour of ‘Trump-free zone’
Tower Hamlets Council, the local authority headed by the Opposition Labour party, unanimously voted in favour of an independent councillor’s motion to declare the borough “closed” to Donald Trump.world Updated: Jan 19, 2018 19:44 IST
A local council in east London has voted in favour of declaring its area a “Trump-free zone” if the US President was to visit the UK.
Tower Hamlets Council, the local authority headed by the Opposition Labour party in what is known as London’s East End, unanimously voted in favour of an independent councillor’s motion to declare the borough “closed” to Donald Trump at a meeting on Wednesday night.
“We have demonstrated a clear leadership on this issue. I hope my campaign has contributed in conveying a clear message to President Trump,” said Councillor Ohid Ahmed.
“But the fact remains that Downing Street and the White House are adamant that the invitation has been accepted and a date is still to be finalised. That’s why it’s important the council declares Tower Hamlets a Trump-free zone just like Chicago,” he said.
Ahmed has also written to British Prime Minister Theresa May and US Ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson, requesting the invitation to Trump to visit the UK be withdrawn.
“He is failing in his leadership and we should not welcome him here. We must be vigorous in our intolerance of his intolerance,” the Council’s mayor John Biggs said.
The move by Tower Hamlets,an area with a large Bangladeshi migrant population, follows a similar Trump-free zone declared by its neighbouring Royal Borough of Greenwich last month.
Greenwich Council, also headed by Labour, adopted a motion calling for the state visit invitation extended to the US President to be withdrawn and declaring that “should a state visit go ahead, President Trump would not be welcome in the borough”.
The anti-Trump campaign in London has been building up since the US President retweeted a string of unverified anti- Islamic videos posted by far-right group Britain First.
London mayor Sadiq Khan has repeatedly declared that the American leader is not welcome in the city.
“It appears that President Trump got the message from the many Londoners who love and admire America and Americans but find his policies and actions the polar opposite of our city’s values of inclusion, diversity and tolerance,” Khan said in a statement after Trump tweeted his decision to abandon a so- called “working visit” to London in February to open the new US embassy building.
“His visit next month would without doubt have been met by mass peaceful protests,” Khan said.
Downing Street was believed to have been caught off-guard by Trump’s announcement to abandon his two-day UK visit, planned for February 26 and 27.
Officials who were at an advanced stage of planning for the visit were said to be working on engineering a meeting between Trump and Theresa May on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos next week.
However, in another sign that US-UK relations have hit a bit of a freeze, the White House is said to be lukewarm to the idea of such a meeting.
US secretary of state Rex Tillerson,the stand-in for Trump at the opening of the new US embassy building in Nine Elms area of south-west London, added to the intrigue by claiming that Trump had cancelled his visit to Britain because May needed to “focus on Brexit”.
Trump had said he pulled out because of cost overruns on the new mission.
Sources close to the US President have indicated that in fact Trump had been put off by not being “shown enough love by the British government and fear of mass protests that are likely to greet him in the UK.