An online petition calling for the UK to refuse an official state visit from President Donald Trump has attracted 1 million signatories — before being rejected by the UK government.
The petition gained steam this weekend following global outrage at Trump’s immigration ban; UK citizens were signing at a rate of 1,000 a minute at one point. The petition itself doesn’t mention the immigration ban, but states that the coming state visit should be blocked “because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.”
As opposed to a visit from a head of state (which the petition does not object to in Trump’s case) a state visit involves a full ceremony. A British source familiar with talks for the visit told The Sunday Times that Trump’s team wants “horses down the Mall, tea with William and Kate. They want all that pomp and for it to go seamlessly.”
The petition’s creators write: “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.” The petition notes that he should be able to visit simply as head of state — which would not involve a trip the palace.
As reported by The Guardian, the petition (which will be considered for a debate in parliament) has already been rejected by the UK government. Downing Street said it would not be withdrawing its invitation to Trump as a state visit remains “substantially in the national interest.”
Despite this rejection, UK prime minister Theresa May continues to face pressure over her refusal to firmly disavow Trump’s orders. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said the visit from Trump should be postponed until it’s clear exactly what the president’s “intentions” are, while Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Conservative party in Scotland, said Trump should not be welcomed while “a cruel and divisive policy which discriminates against citizens of the host nation is in place.”
It’s thought that Trump’s executive order — which indefinitely bars Syrian refugees from entering the US as well as temporarily banning dual-nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries — will affect a number of UK citizens. Nadhim Zahawi, a Conservative MP born in Iraq, said he worried he would not be allowed to enter the US to visit his sons, who are studying there. Along with former Labour leader Ed Miliband, he is currently calling on Parliament for an emergency debate on Trump’s ban.
If the state visit from Trump goes ahead it’s likely to be the target of mass demonstrations. Numerous UK groups including Stand Up to Racism and Stop the War have stated they plan to protest the visit. “The invitation to Donald Trump for a state visit will be opposed by millions in Britain,” said a preliminary Facebook event. “Our government should not be seen to be endorsing the sorts of ideas and policies he is putting forward.”