Members of Parliament have debated whether U.S. President Donald Trump should be afforded a state visit to the UK, with opponents calling him a “racist” and “misogynist”.
Opening proceedings, Labour MP Paul Flynn claimed that a state visit was unwarranted, insisting the Queen had been put in a “difficult position” over the plans.
He said the “government should consider this, with a bit of humility, […] and change the invitation to a visit, not a state visit.”
Green MP Caroline Lucas also suggested Mr Trump should not be invited because he is sceptical of man-made global warming, while Labour’s David Lammy said he wanted to “remind the chamber that there are many African Americans sitting at home in fear […], concerned about a President that has had the support of the Ku Klux Klan.”
“They are concerned about a President who has welcomed white supremacists … into his close inner circle,” he added.
“I think of my five-year-old daughter when I think about a man who thinks it’s ok to go and grab pussy,” he said, concluding that Britain had “abandoned all her principles” to afford Trump a state visit.
Countering, Conservative MP Nigel Evans told opponents of the President to “get over it”, adding 2016 had been a “seismic year in many ways for those of us in this room who actually believe in democracy. I didn’t actually realise there were so many interpretations of it.”
He continued: “For those people who are finding it difficult to get to terms with Brexit, we’re actually leaving the European Union – that’s what the people decided. And for those who find it difficult to understand that the American people voted for Donald Trump, get over it because he’s President of the United States!”
Evans stated that he had seen “no evidence” Mr Trump was racist, adding “when we stand up in this country and condemn him for being racist […] in that unseemly way, we’re actually attacking the American people – the 61 million who voted for Donald Trump.”
Despite the heated discussion, the debate was purely symbolic and will not affect plans for the state visit, expected later this year.
The government has already issued a response to the petitions that triggered the debate, stating its support for the visit to go ahead, a position which it is unlikely to alter.
A petition opposing granting Trump a state visit gained more than 1.8 million signatures in just a few days, but signatories were mostly concentrated in London, Oxford, Bristol, Cambridge and Brighton. A counter-petition calling for Trump to visit the UK and exercise his freedom of speech gained in excess of 300,000 signatures which were much more geographically spread across the country.