COMMENT: Treat the office Trump represents with respect while he is here

As D-Day was an Allied operation, it's entirely logical that the President of the United States should be present at the 75th anniversary commemorations in Portsmouth in June.

Tuesday, 23rd April 2019, 8:34 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd April 2019, 8:43 pm

So we understand why Donald Trump and his wife Melania have been invited by the government to travel to the city on June 5 to see the D-Day 75 spectacle on Southsea Common, as part of a state visit.

But there are several questions around his presence that need answering. The first one is why didn't Downing Street inform Portsmouth City Council of the decision to invite Mr Trump before it was publicly announced?

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson has made no secret of his dislike of the president and had already said that he didn’t want Mr Trump here. But it does seem wrong that government officials okayed rolling out the red carpet for him in our city without bothering to tell the council.

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Then there are fears over the effect that Mr Trump’s presence will have on the commemorations. The focus should be firmly on the veterans and the act of remembrance of those who never returned from the Normandy beaches in 1944.

So there has to be concern that Mr Trump and any protests about his visit will divert attention away from them and become the dominant theme of media coverage. We must do all we can to ensure the veterans stay centre stage and not allow their big day to be overshadowed.

The inevitable heightened security could also change the nature of the commemorations, making them less accessible for people who want to watch. Again, we hope that doesn’t happen.

We know people will have their own views about Mr Trump. But whatever you think of him as a person, on June 5 the eyes of the world will be upon us. We should do all we can to treat the office he represents with respect while he is on our city’s soil.