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UK Parliament to debate anti-Trump petition as thousands protest against his travel ban

Members of British Parliament will hold a debate on whether the government should downgrade President Donald Trump’s visit to the UK after a petition opposing his trip gathered over 1.6 million signatures.

India TV News Desk, London [Published on:31 Jan 2017, 11:00 PM IST]
UK Parliament, anti-Trump, travel ban
Protest against Trump in LondonPhoto:AP

Members of British Parliament will hold a debate on whether the government should downgrade President Donald Trump’s visit to the UK after a petition opposing his trip gathered over 1.6 million signatures even as thousands marched in protest against the travel ban by America on seven Muslim countries.

The debate will be held in the House of Commons on February 20 and will also take in a second petition calling for the visit to go ahead, signed by more than 100,000 people.

The petition titled ‘Prevent Donald Trump from making State Visit to the United Kingdom’ calls for the visit to be downgraded from a State Visit, which is hosted by Britain’s Queen and includes a ceremonial welcome and a state banquet.

However, a rival petition titled ‘Donald Trump should make a State Visit to the United Kingdom’, has also gathered some attention since it was created in retaliation.

Downing Street has insisted the visit will go ahead.

Once a petition crosses 100,000 names, the Parliament’s Petitions Committee is required to consider it for a debate in Parliament.

Meanwhile, thousands of demonstrators packed streets across the country to protest against Trump’s executive order banning entry to nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries.

The protesters chanted slogans of “Down with Trump” and “Shame on May” in reference to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision not to withdraw the invitation to Trump for a state visit to the UK in June.

In London, swarms of protesters gathered outside Downing Street last night with similar crowds in towns and cities across Britain, including Edinburgh, Liverpool, Sheffield, Newcastle, Manchester, Brighton, Birmingham and Leeds.

Indian-origin shadow attorney general, Shami Chakrabarti, told the event in London: “It is in sadness and solidarity that we gather here this evening. I also hope, friends, that we stand here in solidarity with all the world’s women who the president has insulted and all the desperate refugees that he would spurn”.

The UK’s shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, told the crowd she had come on behalf of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

She said: “Donald Trump has been president for only a few days and look at what he is doing. We need to resist the Islamophobia and scapegoating of Muslims, we have got to resist it whether it is in the United States or here in the UK”.

The protests came as a petition demanding Trump not be allowed to make a state visit to the UK crossed 1.5 million signatures.

British MPs held an emergency debate in the House of Commons on Monday on the executive order, which affects nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from travelling to America.

"The general principle is that all British passport holders remain welcome to travel to the US," UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the Commons. 

He added: "We have received assurances from the US embassy that this executive order will make no difference to any British passport holder, irrespective of their country of birth or whether they hold another passport". 

"This is not our policy, nor is it a measure that this government would consider. I have already made clear our anxiety about measures that discriminate on grounds of nationality in ways that are divisive and wrong," he said. 

There were some fears that British citizens holding dual nationality of any of the seven countries on Trump's list may be denied entry to the US. 

(With PTI inputs)