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Thousands to reject Bush's UK visit
A British member of parliament has tabled a motion to prevent US President George Bush’s state visit to London this November.
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2003 23:25 GMT
MP Jeremy Corbyn hopes the planned visit will not go ahead
A British member of parliament has tabled a motion to prevent US President George Bush’s state visit to London this November.

Jeremy Corbyn presented the motion on Monday evening and told Aljazeera.net he could not understand why Britain should want to receive a president who started the war in Iraq.

“Why on earth this country should want to receive such a man is totally beyond me,” he said.

The Labour MP added that the “number of people he [George Bush] is bringing with him is quite ridiculous and represents a huge expense to the British taxpayer too.”

More than 4000 police officers are expected to be used to cover the demonstrations during the three-day visit at a cost of more than $1,500,000.

Protests

Stop the War Coalition organiser, John Rees, has applauded the sentiment and hopes the visit will be cancelled.

He believes well over 100,000 people will turn up on 19 November to protest against the presidential visit should it go ahead.

The coalition has been mobilising opposition to Bush’s visit and has arranged demonstrations, including a mock royal procession, a national march and a rally in Trafalgar Square, where protesters plan to topple a statue of the president.

“The prospect of having hundreds of trigger-happy armed US bodyguards on British soil, though outrageous, will not affect our preparations for a huge demonstration” 

John Rees,
Stop the War Coalition organiser

Another organiser, Ghada Razuki, said the reaction the visit continued to generate was phenomenal.

“It is not just from people who are against the Iraq war, but from people who just hate Bush for what he has done to the environment.”

Security criticism

Corbyn, Rees and Razuki are all sceptical of the security operation being put in place to protect Bush and his entourage.

“The prospect of having hundreds of trigger-happy armed US bodyguards on British soil, though outrageous, will not affect our preparations for a huge demonstration,” Rees said.

British police do not routinely carry weapons, so the prospect of foreign armed body guards flanking the president in London this month will be unprecedented.

However, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, John Stevens, said all police leave has been cancelled for the first state visit to Britain by a US president in more than 80 years.

Head of British intelligence, MI5, Eliza Manningham Buller has already warned of an attempted strike by al-Qaida operatives and Stevens has also expressed concern over a human-bomb attack.

Legal but undesirable

The Stop the War Coalition enjoys
a lot of public support

It is for this reason that the police commissioner confirmed that the American secret service would have a “considerable presence in London under our direction."

The Home Office told Aljazeera.net on Monday that the home secretary, David Blunkett, could grant permission for non-nationals to carry weapons under the 1968 Firearms Act.

But a spokesman at police headquarters, Scotland Yard, refused to comment on how many armed American bodyguards would be in London later this month.

Corbyn said, while he was sure foreign armed guards would be legal, it was "highly undesirable. It would be better the trip didn't happen at all."

Bush’s visit is technically the first state visit by a US president since Woodrow Wilson in 1918. Ronald Reagan’s 1982 trip to Britain was not declared a state visit even though he stayed at Windsor Castle.

Source:
Aljazeera
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