British Members of Parliament are debating US President Donald Trump’s planned state visit later to the UK as protests are set to take place across the country over the controversial trip.
MPs will spend up to three hours discussing a petition calling for the visit planned for later this year to be downgraded because of Trump’s “well-documented misogyny and vulgarity.”
The petition against Trump’s state visit attracted more than 1.8 million signatures, easily crossing the 100,000 point that made it qualified for a parliamentary debate. A petition supporting his visit got 311,000 and will also be discussed.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, said he was “strongly opposed” to letting Trump address lawmakers during his visit because of Parliament’s “opposition to racism and to sexism.”
While the parliamentary debate is largely symbolic, it highlights the widespread opposition to the decision to allow Trump a state visit to the UK. The British government has already formally rejected the petition.
Opposition to Trump’s visit gained momentum after he imposed a 90-day travel ban – later blocked by federal courts in the US – on nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Anti-Trump protests planned
Organizers of a campaign to stop Trump’s state visit, dubbed the Stop Trump Coalition, say they expect up to 20,000 people to demonstrate outside the Parliament while the debate is under way.
Smaller protests in support of immigrants are due to take place around Britain, including in Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff and Newcastle.
Campaigners are also marking “One Day Without Us”, celebrating the contribution of migrants to Britain, coinciding with the UN’s World Day of Social Justice.
Labor Leader Jeremy Corbyn has demanded that Trump be banned from the UK until the Muslim ban is lifted.
On Sunday, London’s Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan said that Trump’s “cruel and shameful” policies mean he should not be granted a state visit.
Final details for Trump’s visit, announced by Prime Minister Theresa May during her trip to Washington last month, have yet to be agreed.
Trump’s visit is expected to take place during a weekend in late August or early September, at a time when Parliament is in recess, The Guardian reported earlier this month, citing sources in the UK government.
This would allow the government to overcome the controversy over whether Trump should address lawmakers. That would also allow Queen Elizabeth to host Trump at her summer retreat in the north of Scotland, Balmoral Castle, rather than the more high-profile Buckingham Palace in London.