United Kingdom

21 Feb 2017

British MP’s debate over Trump visit petition

The petition against Donald Trump’s visit in the United Kingdom was a matter of debate between members of the British Parliament yesterday evening. While the debate was taking place, almost 7.000 people demonstrated against Trump’s upcoming visit shouting and carrying placards with slogans against the newly elected President of USA.  Similar but smaller demonstrations took place in other cities of the UK as well like Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh.

The petition that has as a title “Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the UK” is, according to the internet site of the British Parliament, the second most signed in history numbering  1.8 million signatures. It comes second only to the petition for a second EU referendum that reached 4.1 million signatures. This large gathering of signatures triggered a discussion in the Parliament that was purely symbolic but it signals the discontent of British citizens for the visit of Donald Trump on British soil.

Inside the Parliament, members expressed a wide range of arguments to support or go against the Trump visit. Alex Salmond, one of the most famous lawmakers of the Scottish National Party, said that he did not know if he should be astonished by the stupidity or to be appalled by the morality of the invitation. Expressing a similar point of view, Paul Flynn of the Labor party described Trump as a petulant child that creates problems with his behavior and said that an invitation of this kind was a premature action that could go terribly wrong.

Aligned with the government position was Nigel Evans, a Tory MP, who stated that the criticism against Trump should stop at some point and that he is a democratically elected President that is just implementing policies that he had promised. Other members focused on Trump’s behavior and his comments against immigrants, women and LGBT people and the fact that all these were done in public. Mr. Flynn, in a part of his speech, said that even the Queen of England might be put in an awkward position by Trump’s presence.

Sir Alan Dunkan, the Foreign Office minister, was confident that the visit should and will take place and that people of UK will give a warm welcome to the President of USA. The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, invited Donald Trump to come to the UK during her first visit in Washington. This was the first time that an American President has been invited so quickly to visit by a British Prime Minister. Trump was invited just seven days after being elected while Barack Obama waited 758 days and George W. Bush 978 days.

Sources from May’s cabinet report that the invitation has as a target to unite the nation and to find valuable allies that will be needed during the difficult Brexit negotiations with EU, securing the future of Great Britain. On the other hand, protesters that took the streets of the biggest British cities condemned the visit saying that President Trump is an extremist and that there is a problem with all ideas that he represents and expresses. Added to that is the danger that Trump might embarrass Queen Elizabeth herself.

The visit of President Trump will take place according to the program but it is not certain at all if Theresa May will unite the nation behind her decision eventually and if the visit is going to be a quiet one as the British government would like.