A royal invitation for Donald Trump to pay a state visit to Britain must be withdrawn says a petition on parliament’s website that has gathered well over a million signatures.
The grassroots backlash against the US President was at the heart of stormy exchanges in the House of Commons on Monday.
Theresa May’s Conservative government insists the visit will go ahead despite Trump’s immigration crackdown.
“This is of course a highly controversial policy which has caused unease and I repeat this is not an approach that this government would take,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told MPs.
“But let me conclude by reminding the house of the vital importance of this country’s alliance with the United States.”
We will protect the rights and freedoms of UK nationals home and abroad. Divisive and wrong to stigmatise because of nationality— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) 29 janvier 2017
May’s political opponents however want a much tougher line.
“When it comes to human rights, when it comes to women’s rights, when it comes to torture and the treatment of minorities, President Trump is already descending down a very dangerous slope,” said Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry.
“And when that happens we need a Prime Minister who’s prepared to tell him to stop, not one who simply proffers
her hand and silently helps him along”.
“Do the decent thing and ban the visit,” fellow Labour MP Dennis Skinner told the House.
“This man (Trump) is not fit to walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is a Muslim, also called for the visit to be called off.
“We must now rescind the offer of a full state visit for President Trump – until this ban is lifted. I don’t believe the people of London will support rolling out the red carpet until this happens,” Khan wrote in the Evening Standard newspaper.
There should be no state visit for President Trump until he lifts his immigration ban. https://t.co/O921BLIIvT— Mayor of London (@MayorofLondon) 30 janvier 2017
The petition, which will be considered for a parliamentary debate, says Trump’s visit would embarrass Queen Elizabeth.
With more than 1.4 million signatories by late afternoon local time, the petition against the visit was the second most popular ever on the parliamentary website, after one calling for a second referendum on membership of the European Union drew more than four million signatures last year.
However May’s Downing Street office signalled that cancelling the visit was not on the cards.
“To be clear, the prime minister extended an invitation on behalf of the Queen – and she was very happy to do so. The USA is one of this country’s closest allies, and we look forward to hosting the president later this year,” Downing Street said.
A year ago, parliament debated a petition calling for Trump, then a presidential candidate, to be barred from the United Kingdom. It gathered close to 600,000 signatures before it was closed last June.