Lawmakers in the United Kingdom will debate on Monday whether the British government should withdraw an invitation to President Donald Trump for a state visit.
The Washington Post reports a petition calling for Trump’s disinvitation has collected more than 1.8 million signatures as of Sunday, far more than the 100,000 needed to trigger a mandatory parliamentary debate.
“Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US Government, but he should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen,” the petition states. “Donald Trump’s well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales. Therefore during the term of his presidency Donald Trump should not be invited to the United Kingdom for an official State Visit.”
A counter-petition urging the government to allow the state visit because Trump “is the leader of a free world and UK is a country that supports free speech and does not believe that people that appose our point of view should be gagged” has received more than 300,000 signatures and will also be debated in Parliament.
British Prime Minister Theresa May, a Conservative, was the first foreign leader to meet with Trump at the White House, where she invited him for an official state visit on a date to be determined. Such events are hosted by the Queen and feature great pomp and ceremony; over the course of the 65-year reign of Elizabeth II, only two American presidents — George W. Bush in 2003 and Barack Obama in 2011 — have been so honored. When Bush visited, tens of thousands of Londoners took to the capital’s streets in protest.
The British government is standing by its decision to invite Trump for a state visit. “HM Government believes the President of the United States should be extended the full courtesy of a State Visit,” it said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming President Trump once dates and arrangements are finalised.”
The Evening Standard reports thousands of protesters are expected to rally outside Parliament on Monday evening as lawmakers debate the petition. “We are calling for a nationwide day of action to stand up and say no to the future of hatred, racism and division that Donald Trump is trying to create – and to say no to the disgraceful complicity of Theresa May and the British government in supporting him,” organizers of the “Defend Migrants, Stop Trump” protest said. A large anti-Trump protest on January 30, part of the UK-wide #StandUpToTrump movement, ground Whitehall traffic to a halt as tens of thousands of Londoners marched to Downing Street.
There is considerable support for disinviting Trump among the British opposition. Senior female Labour MPs have vowed to boycott Trump’s visit. “I could not be there clapping a man who is a self-confessed groper,” former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman told the Observer. “His views on many issues are unacceptable. And on foreign policy he seems to think he can just bully other countries and get his way. That we should sit there smiling and clapping is… well for me it is out of the question.”
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Brecow, has been accused of violating the neutrality of his office after saying he believed Trump was unfit to address Parliament due to his “racism and sexism.”
According to an IPSOS Mori survey published in the Evening Standard, a slim majority of Britons are in favor of Trump’s state visit — with considerably more men than women backing the billionaire businessman.