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Amid protests, U.K. lawmakers debate Trump visit invitation

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Crowd control barriers are placed around the Houses of Parliament ahead of a rally protesting U.S. President Donald Trump.

LONDON >> U.S. President Donald Trump should not be afforded the “rare privilege” of a state visit, a British opposition lawmaker said today, as Parliament debated a call for Trump’s invitation to be downgraded and stripped of its royal seal of approval.

The nonbinding debate was called in response to an online petition with more than 1.8 million signatures saying a formal state visit “would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.”

As lawmakers meeting in a side-room of Parliament rather than the House of Commons chamber debated, hundreds of Trump opponents gathered outside to protest.

Opening the debate, Labour Party legislator Paul Flynn pointed out that only two other U.S. presidents — George W. Bush and Barack Obama — have been invited for state visits since the 1950s.

State visits are distinct from official visits, and see foreign leaders welcomed with royal pomp and military ceremony; most stay at Buckingham Palace as guests of Queen Elizabeth II.

Flynn said Trump had shown an “Orwellian” disregard for the truth and behaved “like a petulant child.” He said a state visit would make it appear as if the queen were “approving the acts of Donald J. Trump.”

He urged the Conservative government to “consider this with a bit of humility … and change the invitation to one for a visit, not a state visit.”

Both Bush and Obama made their state visits several years into their tenures. Prime Minister Theresa May invited Trump a week after his Jan. 20 inauguration.

Some lawmakers said May’s haste to bolster the trans-Atlantic “special relationship” as the U.K. prepares to leave the European Union had an edge of desperation.

“We didn’t do this for Kennedy,” Labour lawmaker David Lammy said. “We didn’t do this for Truman. We didn’t do this for Reagan. But for this man, after seven days, we say ‘Please come and we will lay on everything because we are so desperate for your company?’… I am ashamed that it has come to this.”

All petitions on the government’s e-petitions website that receive more than 100,000 signatures are eligible for debate in Parliament, though not binding votes.

Lawmakers also considered an opposing petition, with more than 300,000 signatures, backing the state visit.

During her 65-year reign, Elizabeth has welcomed many leaders with less-than-spotless records, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and the late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. A 2015 state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping drew protests from Tibetan groups and human rights activists.

Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg said critics of Trump’s pending visit were being hypocritical.

“What complaint did the honorable member make when Emperor Hirohito came here?” he asked Flynn. The Japanese emperor’s 1971 state visit was highly controversial at the time.

Flynn replied that Britain should not “try to imitate the errors of the past.”

Trump’s invitation has sparked unprecedented opposition, especially after he issued an executive order temporarily barring citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States. The order has since been suspended by U.S. courts.

Thousands of people demonstrated against the order in British towns and cities, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged the government to reconsider its invitation in light of Trump’s “cruel” migrant ban.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow set aside his customary political neutrality to say that Trump should not be invited to address Parliament when he comes to Britain.

The government insists Trump’s visit is still on for later this year, though dates have not been announced.

The government said in a statement responding to the petition that the state visit “reflects the importance of the relationship between the United States of America and the United Kingdom.”

“We look forward to welcoming President Trump once dates and arrangements are finalized,” it said.

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  • Let him go. Trump is already an embarrassment as POTUS. His embarrassment is on him. He can take the high road or his usual low life road. Either way his demeanor is his and his only. Headed to Vegas, Nows the time to Capitalize on his misfortune. They are accepting bets on wether he will complete his first term.

    • Sad to say, but you are not correct in saying that everything is on him. The fact is, he was elected into office by “we the people”, and therefore represents us as our leader. So, he is who we are as a country, as horrible as that is.

      • And im sad to say that though he represents us as a nation, the rest of the world now knows that it is a divided nation at best and that this idiot is making matters worse by opening his arrogant mouth time after time and making enemies with the world. Way to go Chumpettes, you got what you wished for!!!

      • Citizens of foreign countries know of Trump’s past and current antics. They don’t want him fouling the air with his oral spew. They know from watching the press conferences and rally speeches that it’s only the people that voted Trump into office that suffer from mental illness, not the entire U.S. population.
        Though it would be entertaining to watch him lie during a speech while in a foreign country, as he does EVERY time in the U.S. of Amerussia.

        • it is the people or i should say children that are rioting in the streets and the press making mountains out of mole hills that are mental retards. president trump won the election and 62 million stand by him and i am ready to protect him from any harm coming from traitorous people plotting against him. he is our president whether you like it or not and there will be civil war coming and we will win.. the silEnt majority will be silent no more!
          IMUA TRUMP IMUA!

        • Oh please diver, get off your soap box and open your eyes. Just because he was elected does not mean we have to bow to the Chump and drink the cool aid he’s handing out! Check your claims that it’s children rioting and the press making this stuff up. If you want to protect him that’s your choice. It still doesn’t make him any smarter or any more superior than any other individual on this planet!!!

  • Has anyone there thought that maybe the a Queen is the perfect person to give President Trump a good tounge lashing and teach him how to behave? Or you can tell him to take a hike along with the rest of the EU and see how that works out . . .

  • “….. London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged the government to reconsider its invitation in light of Trump’s “cruel” migrant ban.”

    A muslim for mayor of Olde London ???
    So much for “Merry Olde England” soon to be another muslim conquest.

  • To all you Trump lovers who follow his every word like unthinking sheep: Can’t you see that those who find Trump offensive and childish are not just millions of Americans, but millions in other countries? Or are you believing that reports of the millions of people even outside of our great country opposed to Trump is, as you say it, “fake news”? Just because you want it to be fake news and you say it’s fake news doesn’t make it fake news. It’s real and it’s happening!

  • From an economic perspective (not social) UK is walking a tightrope with Brexit that will hurt their economy and making enemies with Trump as US is their largest export destination. It’s understandable for folks to be upset with Trump’s social issues; more so with the coastal states including Hawaii.

  • if I was trump I would say to those British people I can understand that you don’t want a undesirable like me visiting your country we kicked out undesirables in our country 240 years ago and they never forgot that.

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