US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump was discussed by MPs yesterday, in a 3-hour debate on the matter of the petition calling for him to be banned from the country by the Home Office. 575,740 people signed this, deeming it the largest e-petition ever on the Parliament website, much bigger than that demanding no military strikes in Syria, and triggering today’s debate. Mr Trump, currently vying for the Republican Party nomination in the USA, called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” back in December, provoking an outcry across the world. Although the debate did not lead to a vote, it did allow MPs to voice their views and the views of their constituents, and give food for thought for the Home Secretary, Theresa May.
Back on the 7th of December Donald Trump made these comments to a supporter rally.
Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for Newport West, led the debate, and whilst he complimented the popularity of the petition, he pointed out that the precedent was not there for a ban for what Mr Trump had done, Home Office bans usually being used for gang members or extremist preachers. Naz Shah, another Labour MP, also felt that the Presidential contender should be allowed to enter the UK, saying she would “invite him for a curry and challenge his views”, as did Tory MP Paul Scully, who took his 6 minutes to highlight the vital role migrants have played in the history of the UK, and its current economy.
Tory veteran Sir Edward Leigh said that “Like it or not, he is quite a contender to be the head of state of the most powerful country on the planet, a country which is a vital ally of ours. We have welcomed to the country Saudi and Chinese leaders, whose crimes are far worse than anything Mr Trump can dream up”, perhaps referencing the recent visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
One of the MPs at the forefront of those supporting a ban was Labour’s Tulip Siddiq, who argued that the Home Office had an obligation to upholding its own rules regarding dangerous individuals “no matter who the individual is”, and called for Theresa May to follow correct policy. Tory MP Sarah Wollaston pointed out that as the UK is one of the USA’s strongest allies, it would send a strong message to voters about “those that demonise an entire people for no other reason apart from religion.”
‘Trump International Links’ Scotland, which owns the historic golf course Turnberry, amongst other assets, said that Parliament should perhaps spend time debating the UK and Scottish economy rather than this. The company’s vice-president Sarah Malone said that “for the UK to consider banning someone who made a statement in America, about American borders, during a US election campaign is ridiculous.”
There is no definitive result from the debate, but it does heap pressure on the Home Office to make a decision. It would seem unlikely that the Home Secretary would go ahead and ban the billionaire, with the Prime Minister repeatedly dismissing the calls to ban Mr Trump, even yesterday morning on the Today programme. A petition titled ‘Don’t ban Trump from the United Kingdom’ has currently been signed by over 43,900 people.