Questions are being raised on social media as a petition set up to demand U.S. President Donald J. Trump be barred from visiting the UK appears to be attracting around 1,000 signatures a minute.
The petition, hosted on the British Parliament’s petition website, is titled “Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the United Kingdom”, and states the the President’s “well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received”. Set up on Sunday morning, it received nearly 500,000 signatures within a matter of hours, qualifying it for a parliamentary debate.
But the rate at which it appears to be gathering signatures has led to some on social media to compare the petition with another appeal hosted on the parliament website last year, which demanded the UK hold another referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union (EU) after voters opted for Brexit.
The petition was signed by hundreds of people in foreign countries, and critics alleged that as well as encouraging signatures from abroad, Remain supporters were employing bots and scripts to automatically generate signatories.
PETITION: "Prevent Donald Trump from making a state visit to UK": the bots are signing thick and fast. pic.twitter.com/sWjjnEdHxG
— BanTheBBC (@BanTheBBC) January 29, 2017
Some users on Twitter drew attention to how the anti-Trump signatures are geographically spread, noting that the vast majority are coming from liberal, Remain-supporting enclaves like London, Bristol, Brighton and Cambridge.
— ɴᴀᴍʀᴜ 🍂 (@Namru) January 29, 2017
However, some left wing celebrities took the incredible speed at which signatures appear to be zooming onto the petition as evidence that barring Trump from the UK is a plan which has massive support.
Need cheering up today? Spend a minute or two watching the numbers soar upward on this anti-Trump petition https://t.co/xP3gK42KqB
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) January 29, 2017
This is hilariously getting close to half a million names in record time. Let's get it to at least a million. https://t.co/ziv1gammmp
— Armando Iannucci (@Aiannucci) January 29, 2017
Breitbart London reported how Britain’s liberal establishment has reacted with fury in recent days to the U.S president’s decision to pause immigration from some Muslim-majority states while tough new vetting laws are put in place.
On Sunday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn argued that Trump’s planned state visit to the UK should be postponed until he lifts restrictions.
But populist leaders on the continent have lauded Trump for following through on his election promises, suggesting that his plan offers a practical model to deal with high immigration figures in Europe.