Monday 20 February 2017 8:39 pm

Donald Trump’s state visit is “entirely appropriate” says foreign office minister

Mark Sands is City A.M's political reporter.

Mark Sands is City A.M's political reporter.

Foreign office minister Sir Alan Duncan has shot down demands to scrap the state visit of  US President Donald Trump, telling MPs the honour is “entirely appropriate”.

MPs today debated Trump's trip after 1.8m people signed a petition calling for the state visit to be scrapped, with questions raised about the timing of the invitation from Downing Street, after it was extended just days into the President's tenure.

Prime Minister Theresa May informally invited Trump while visiting the President in Washington last month, and today, Duncan defended the move.

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“It's a perfectly legitimate decision to use the full impact of an invitation to maximise the diplomatic significance of a state visit at the start of President Trump's term in office,” he said.

Duncan added that neither the timing nor the content of the visit have been planned.

The comments came after Tory backbencher Sir Simon Burns, who campaigned for Hillary Clinton, told MPs that building ties with Trump was a “no brainer”.

“What we have got to do is look at what is going to be most helpful for Britain, for its future policy and development. And I think it is a no brainer that working closer with the United States is far more important for this country, particularly as we begin negotiations and the exit from the EU in two, two and a half years time,” Burns said.

“We cannot afford to be isolated and to ignore our friends.”

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The remarks contrasted with Labour MP Paul Flynn who opened the debate by attacking Trump, describing the President's intellectual capacity as “protozoan”.