UK lawmakers start debate banning Trump after Muslim comments

Heated debate on whether to ban Donald Trump from entering the UK, following the U.S. Republican presidential frontrunner’s comments on Muslims, begins in Britain’s Houses of Parliament.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (JANUARY 18, 2016) (PARLIAMENT TV) – British lawmakers began debating on Monday (January 18) a petition signed by more than half a million people calling for U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to be banned from Britain after he said Muslims should not be allowed to enter the United States.

Last month, Trump provoked controversy with his comments that Muslims should be banned from entering the United States, after 14 people died in a shooting spree in California by two Muslims whom the FBI said had been radicalised.

The British government responds to all petitions that gain more than 10,000 signatures and topics are considered for parliamentary debate if they reach 100,000.

“It would be very difficult to ignore a vox pop that is so thunderous it contains the signatures of half a million people,” said Labour member of parliament, Paul Flynn who was leading the debate.

The debate, which was starting at around 1630 GMT (1130 EST) and was scheduled to last around 3 hours, will not be followed by a vote. Only interior minister Theresa May can issue an order banning entry into Britain and Prime Minister David Cameron has said that while Trump’s comments were divisive, he does not favour barring him.

Flynn said that while Trump’s comments had been worse than those of many people who have previously been banned by Britain, barring Trump him would only give him more publicity.

“We should look to what we see from Donald Trump at the moment and we must confront his words and prejudice, lack of knowledge, intolerance and what we should greet him with is a welcoming hand of friendship, knowledge and truth and then perhaps this wall, shameful walls of prejudice will come tumbling down,” he said.

Other lawmakers thought the fact that the debate was taking place was ludicrous.

“I know we’ve had some examples of when people have been excluded from this country. I’ve heard of a number of cases where people have been excluded for incitement, for hatred, I have never heard of one for stupidity and I am not sure that we should be starting now,” said Conservative MP Paul Scully.

But Muslim Labour MP, Tulip Siddiq was greatly offended by Trump’s comments and wants him to be barred from entering the country.

“His words are not comical, his words are not funny, his words are poisonous, they risk inflaming tension between vulnerable communities. And let me make one thing clear, we have legislation in our country to make sure we do not let people enter who are not conducive to the public good.”

Other lawmakers made the point that it is not for British politicians to debate American politics and that Trump can not be blamed for all anti-Muslim attacks.

Trump has threatened to cancel over 700 million pounds ($1 billion) of planned investments in golf courses in Scotland if he is banned.

A statement by Trump International Golf Links in Scotland strongly criticised the debate.

“It is absurd that valuable parliamentary time is being wasted debating a matter raised as part of the American Presidential election,” it said.

“Our politicians would do better to debate how to solve the challenges facing our own country and its people, like the tens of thousands of job losses in the oil industry and the thousands more job cuts planned,” the statement concluded.