Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON — British parliament debated over two online petitions regarding a state visit by the new U.S. president as thousands of people staged a rally against Donald Trump at the Parliament Square in London on Monday.
One of the petitions signed by 1.85 million people was against Trump’s state visit, while the other was in favor with 310,000 signatures.
Parliamentarians from leading Conservative and opposing parties expressed their views inside the parliament on the proposed state visit extended by Prime Minister Theresa May during her visit to the U.S. on Jan. 27.
Lawmaker Seema Malhotra warned MPs that Trump’s state visit could be seen as an endorsement of his policies.
Liam Byrne, another Labour MP, said Trump’s visit would be divisive.
Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan said on behalf of the government that state visits are strategic “diplomatic tools” and “the visit will happen”.
“In an uncertain and increasingly dangerous world, the ability to work closely with key countries is of critical importance. Strong alliances and close relationships are a central stabilizing pillar for world security,” Duncan said.
A symbolic vote on Trump’s state visit saw more MPs shout “No” against those who said “Aye”, which then ended the debate.
Meanwhile, protesters against the visit denounced Trump’s anti-immigrant policies at the Parliament Square.
“Dump Trump, Hate and Fear not Welcome here” one of the placards read at the demo.
Another one read, “Refugees welcome here”, criticizing Trump’s executive order against Syrian immigrants and refugees and those from seven Muslim-majority countries.
David Sheiner, an American citizen who has lived in the U.K. for about 20 years, said Trump is not welcome in the U.K.
“I think it says a lot about Brexit, too. They are desperate to form new alliances. They should do anything to stop it happening,” Sheiner said.
Another protester visiting London from Cumbria was Jane Calley.
“He just want to promote hate; I just want to tell them that they are not inviting him [Trump] in our name,” Calley told Anadolu Agency.
Similar protests were also held in other cities, including in Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Brighton, Bristol, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Leeds.
Last week, in an email response to the 1.85 million people who signed the online petition to parliament against the state visit, the government said: “We look forward to welcoming President Trump once dates and arrangements are finalized.” (aa.com)