Trump’s return to the UK will prove a real test for our leaders

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Donald Trump will come to the UK on 24 June, the day after the EU referendum, to attend the relaunch of one of his golf resorts in Scotland.

The Republican presidential candidate owns two resorts in the country: Trump International Golf Links in Menie, the battle over which was the subject of the 2013 documentary You’ve Been Trumped, and the Trump Turnberry hotel and golf course. He bought the latter in 2014, which has been given a $200m refurbishment.

Aside from a resurfacing of bad feeling from the various rows surrounding Trump’s business conduct in Scotland, there has been speculation over whether UK leaders will meet with him after they uniformly criticised his racist comments about Muslims and Mexicans last year.

David Cameron has flip-flopped over whether or not he would be happy to meet with the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee after a campaign mired in controversy. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, meanwhile, has stripped Trump of his honorary title as a “GlobalScot” business ambassador last year, and is quoted by the Guardian as having said:

she found the businessman’s views on Muslims “really abhorrent”, and that she had her fingers crossed he would not win the presidential elections.

Whether or not leaders meet with Trump will be under close scrutiny, as will their conduct if they do so. For many it will be a litmus test of leadership itself. To what extent can a strong leader host another who has been widely touted as racist, divisive and dangerous – even by the Prime Minister himself – and entertain him as an important visitor to the UK without comment?

Trump’s business deals in Scotland have not only been a perfect illustration of his divisive conduct, but also of his flouting of regulation and disdain for environmental integrity. You’ve Been Trumped provided an exposé of the businessman, then only considering his run for the presidency as he fought to destroy an area of Scotland so rare and environmentally significant it was described by one scientist as “Scotland’s Amazon rainforest”. The delicate sand dune network that Trump sought to destroy to build Trump International Golf Links on was also home to a handful of people whom he tried to evict, launching smear campaigns against the individual homeowners and calling one of them “a pig” who lives in “a slum”.

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Then-leader of the SNP, Alex Salmond, at first welcomed Trump’s promises of 6,000 jobs and huge investment in Scotland, ignoring the environmental destruction that came as part of the deal – but their relationship soon turned sour when Trump tried to sabotage a wind farm development backed by the government.

The Trump International Golf Links employs fewer than 100 people, and the rare dune system lies in ruins while the resort sits on top, losing millions of pounds.

There are plenty of reasons to criticise Trump as a person, a businessman, and certainly as a politician – for what he has done in the UK and for what he might do to, and in the name of, the US. Whether or not the UK’s figureheads will “unite against him”, as Cameron cited as a reason to invite him to the UK back in December, remains to be seen. Now that the Prime Minister is back-peddling on that attitude, it may well be up to British citizens to voice a stance against Trump’s contempt, especially since he now stands on the edge of an even bigger platform for wielding it.

Get involved!

Write to your MP about how you’d like to see leadership respond to Trump’s visit.

Image via Gage Skidmore

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