South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge spoke out against rescinding an offer for US President Donald Trump to make a state visit to Britain despite sharing his and his constituents’ concerns at a parliamentary debate on Monday.
The debate was in response to a petition signed by more than a million people in support of scrapping or downgrading the visit invitation.
At the debate Mr Cartlidge said: “I feel duty-bound to speak because so many of my constituents have signed the petition. I have some sympathy with them.
“Some of the things that Donald Trump has said are extremely offensive, but what concerns me is the points of substance, such as the ambiguity about NATO. That is what we should be worried about.”
Despite this concern Mr Cartlidge felt the UK’s foreign policy would be best served by following the national interest.
“We need to focus on the strategic points, to which there are two parts. The first is the recognition that we need to be as close to the US Administration as possible. If we have concerns we should be trying to shape his administration rather than rescinding an offer that was sent and accepted in good faith.
“My second point on strategy is to understand who wins if we rescind the offer. I can tell Members who will win - there is one man: Vladimir Putin.
“There will be smiles all round the Kremlin if we follow the suggestion in the petition, because the one thing it wants above all else is to divide the west.
“It does not want a strong transatlantic partnership. I am talking not just about our interest but the global interest in saying that we would be crackers to withdraw the invitation. “
Despite describing Russia as a huge threat Mr Cartlidge suggested offering a state visit to President Putin
“That is precisely why we offer invitations—because we want to influence an administration. For me, people can say offensive things and represent terrible values, but our foreign policy is about the national interest of the United Kingdom.
“That means being as strong as possible and having as much influence as possible on countries that are the major global players.”