Donald Trump isn't banned in the UK, but he took a beating there

GlobalPost
Donald Trump in Scotland
Donald Trump on the sand dunes near Aberdeen, northeast Scotland on May 27, 2010. 
David Moir

LONDON, UK — British Parliament launched into a fierce, three-hour debate Monday on whether to ban Donald Trump from entering the United Kingdom over his targeting of Muslims.

The debate came about because a petition calling for the US Republican presidential candidate to be barred from the UK scored more than 575,000 signatures. It cited his “dangerous” and inflammatory “hate speech” as grounds to refuse Trump entry.

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The tycoon survived and is not being banned — for now — partly because members of Parliament (MPs) don’t actually make that kind of call; the home secretary does. In the end, the lawmakers did not hold a formal vote on the matter, but more seemed to oppose banning the man from visiting.

But Trump’s name took a bad beating in the legislature of America’s close ally, just weeks before the US presidential primaries.

(H/T rawstory.com.)

“His words are not funny. His words are poisonous. They risk inflaming tensions between vulnerable communities. I draw the line with freedom of speech when it actually imports violent ideology which is what I feel is happening,” said Tulip Siddiq, a Labour Party politician, in support of the ban. She also happens to be Muslim.

Some disagreed with the need to ban Trump — but not because they particularly like the guy.

“The great danger of attacking this one man is that we give him a halo of martyrdom, which is conceived to be an advantage among those who support him,” said Labour politician Paul Flynn.

Unexpected opposition also came from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran left-winger. He told the BBC “my wife is Mexican and my constituency is very, very multicultural, so what I was going to do was go down to the mosque with him and let him talk to people up there.”

A Conservative, Adam Holloway, said: “I feel we should almost apologize to the people of the United States — it’s for them to decide on Mr. Trump's views, not us."

Some took a more lighthearted approach to the debate. MP Naz Shah offered to take Trump for a curry meal in her constituency of Bradford, which has a high Muslim population.

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Trump himself was at a rally in Virginia during the debate, which he made no mention of in his speech. 

But earlier this month, he threatened to pull a $1 billion planned investment in golf courses in Scotland if the UK banned him. That may have had an influence on at least one MP's decision to oppose the move, according to the Washington Post.

It was a Scottish journalist and activist, Suzanne Kelly, who created the anti-Trump petition in November. It quickly became the country's most popular. Once a petition gets 100,000 signatures, legislators have to consider debating the issue.

Trump's proposal to stop all Muslims from entering the United States was almost universally condemned, but Kelly attributes the creation of the petition to another comment.

“The real catalyst for it was when I saw him mocking the journalist, and then trying to turn it around and asking The New York Times to apologize to him [Trump], which of course it didn’t,” Kelly said in an interview with The Student, a university newspaper based in her hometown of Aberdeen. She was referring to the case of Serge Kovaleski, a disabled reporter who had interviewed Trump multiple times.

“I thought, this is somebody either who’s so deceitful that he’s got us all running around thinking that he’s right about so many of these issues — and unfortunately so many Americans do — or he’s deluded. And I thought, whatever the case is, this is not someone I want to be in charge of the world at this point in time.”

Britain’s Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, who rarely comments on US politics, has branded Trump’s remarks about Muslims and Mexicans “stupid and wrong.” 

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A government statement on the petition webpage said: “The Prime Minister has made clear that he completely disagrees with Donald Trump’s remarks. The Home Secretary has said that Donald Trump’s remarks in relation to Muslims are divisive, unhelpful and wrong.” 

Opinions from both sides of the Atlantic were aired on Twitter.

The debate could technically arise again with a formal vote if the ban supporters push hard enough for it. But then, Home Secretary May would have to make the decision.

For now, Trump is officially — if bitterly — welcome to Britain.