Birmingham-born Lord Digby Jones, a former trade minister in Gordon Brown's government, has intervened in the row over Donald Trump's state visit to the UK on 13 February.

Jones told IBTimes UK, in a statement, that it was "great news" the US president was apparently planning to visit the second city in June.

"He's the properly-elected president of our largest trading partner and best ally," the ex-Confederation of British Industry (CBI) chief argued.

"He's coming to my home town as president not an individual. We've had Saudi kings and Chinese presidents in the UK so why not a democratically-elected leader of a free country?"

The comments come after reports claimed Trump could address a rally at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC). The Republican and Birmingham voters both backed a Brexit vote at the EU referendum in June.

President Bill Clinton turned Brummie heads when he walked around the city centre in 1998. The Democrat was in the West Midlands alongside Tony Blair, Russia's Boris Yeltsin and France's Jacques Chirac for a G8 summit.

But Trump is expected to face large protests if he visits Birmingham. The Stop Trump Coalition, which has the support of politicians and trade unionists, has promised to hold "huge demonstrations" in reaction to Trump's temporary ban of people travelling from seven Muslim-majority countries to America.

"Birmingham is a wonderfully diverse city, home to people of every background, every faith - President Trump with his hateful and divisive rhetoric, policies and Muslim ban is not welcome here," said Labour Birmingham Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood.

A spokesperson for Lord Karan Bilimoria, the Cobra Beer founder, told IBTimes UK the cross-bench peer would not comment on the issue in a bid to stay neutral as the chancellor of the University of Birmingham.